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First Edition igii 
Second Edition 1914 


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Parzival, the Brave Man slowly Wise. ... 3 

The Heart of Heloise . 29 


German Considerations: Walther von der Vogelweide 55 



Scriptural Allegories in the Early Middle Ages ; 

Honor lus of Autun ....... 67 





The Rationale of the Visible World : Hugo of St. 

Victor 86 


Cathedral and Mass; Hymn and Imaginative Poem . 102 

I. Guilelmus Duvandus and Vincent of Beauvais. 
II. The Hymns of Adam of St. Victor and the 
Afttidatidianus of Alanus of Lille. 



The Spell of the Classics 133 

I. Classical Reading. 
II. Grammar. 

III. The Effect upon the Mediaeval Man; Hildebert of 


Evolution of Mediaeval Latin Prose . . . .176 


Evolution of Mediaeval Latin Verse . . . .215 

I. Metrical Verse. 
II. Substitution of Accent for Quantity. 

III. Sequence-Hymn and Student-Song. 

IV. Passage of Themes into the Vernacular. 




Mediaeval ArrROPRiAxioN of the Roman Law . . 260 

I. The Fontes Juris Civilis. 

II. Roman and Barbarian Codification. 
. II. The Mediaeval Appropriation. 
IV. Church Law. 

V. Political Theorizing. 




Scholasticism: Spirit, Scope, and Method . . . 313 


Classification of Topics; Stages of Evolution . . 341 
I. Philosophic Classification of the Sciences ; the 
Arrangement of Vincent's Encyclopaedia, of the 
Lombard's Sentences, of Aquinas's Stcmma theo- 
II. The Stages of Development: Grammar, Logic, Meta- 


Twelfth-Century Scholasticism 368 

I. The Problem of Universals : Abaelard. 
II. The Mystic Strain: Hugo and Bernard. 
III. The Later Decades: Bernard Silvestris ; Gilbert de 
la Porree ; William of Conches ; John of Salisbury, 
and Alanus of Lille. 







Albertus Magnus 



Thomas Aquinas .•■••" 
I. Thomas's Conception of Human Beatitude. 
II. Man's Capacity to know God. 

III. How God knows. 

IV. How the Angels know. 
V. How Men know. 

VI. Knowledge through Faith perfected in Love. 





Roger Bacon 


Duns Scotus and Occam . • • • 




The Mediaeval Synthesis: Dante . 







Mediaeval Appropriation of the Roman Law . . ' 260 

I. The Fontes Juris Civilis. 

II. Roman and Barbarian Codification. 
. II. The Mediaeval Appropriation. 
IV. Church Law. 

V. Political Theorizinsr. 




Scholasticism: Spirit, Scope, and Method . . . 313 


Classification of Topics; Stages of Evolution . . 341 
I. Philosophic Classification of the Sciences ; the 
Arrangement of Vincent's Encyclopaedia, of the 
Lombard's Se7itences^ of Aquinas 's Suinma theo- 
II. The Stages of Development: Grammar, Logic, Meta- 


Twelfth-Century Scholasticism ..... 368 
I. The Problem of Universals : Abaelard. 
II. The Mystic Strain : Hugo and Bernard. 
III. The Later Decades: Bernard Silvestris ; Gilbert de 
la Porree ; William of Conches ; John of Salisbury, 
and Alanus of Lille. 




The Universities, Aristotle, and the Mendicants . 408 


Bonaventura ......... 432 


Albertus Magnus 45° 


Thomas Aquinas 463 

I. Thomas's Conception of Human Beatitude. 

II. Man's Capacity to know Cod. 

III. How God knows. 

IV. How the Angels know. 
V. How Men know. 

VI. Knowledge through Faith perfected in Love. 


Roger Bacon . . . . . . . . .514 


Duns Scotus and Occam -539 


The Mediaeval Synthesis: Dante 555 

INDEX .... 591 







The instances of romantic chivalry and courtly love reviewed 
in the last chapter exemplify ideals of conduct in some 
respects opposed to Christian ethics. But there is still a 
famous poem of chivalry in which the romantic ideal has 
gained in ethical consideration and achieved a hard-won 
agreement with the teachings of mediaeval Christianity, and 
yet has not become monkish or lost its knightly character. 
This poem told of a struggle toward wisdom and toward 
peace ; and the victory when won rested upon the broadest 
mediaeval thoughts of life, and therefore necessarily included 
the soul's reconcilement to the saving ways of God. Yet it, 
was knighthood's battle, won on earth by strength of arm, 
by steadfast courage, and by loyalty to whatsoever through 
the weary years the man's increasing wisdom recognized as 
right. A monk, seeking salvation, casts himself on God ; 
the man that battles in the world is conscious that his own 
endeavour helps, and knows that God is ally to the valiant 
and not to him who lets his hands drop — even in the lap of 

Among the romances presumably having a remote 
Breton origin, and somehow connected with the Court of 
Arthur, was the tale of Parzival, the princely youth reared 
in foolish ignorance of life, who learned all knighthood's 
lessons in the end, and became a perfect worshipful knight. 
This tale was told and retold. The adventures of another 
knight, Gawain, were interwoven in it. Possibly the French 
poet, Chretien de Troies, about the year 1170, in his re- 
tellings first brought into the story the conception of that 



thing, that magic dish, which in the course of Us reteUings 
became the Holy Grail. Chretien did not finish his poem, 
and after him others completed or retold the story. Among 
them there was one who lacked the smooth facility of the 
French Trouvere, yet surpassed him and all others in thought- 
fulness and dramatic power. This was the Bavarian, 
Wolfram von Eschenbach. He was a knight, and wandered 
firom castle to castle and from court to court, and saw men. 
His generous patron was Hermann, Landgraf of Thiiringen, 
who held court on the Wartburg, near Eisenach, There 
Wolfram may have composed his great poem in the opening 
years of the thirteenth century. He was no clerk, and had 
no clerkly education. Probably he could neither read nor 
write. But he lived during the best period of mediaeval 
German poetry, and the Wartburg was the centre of gay 
and literary life. Walther von der Vogelweide was one of 
Wolfram's familiars in its halls. 

Wolfram knew and disapproved of Chretien's version of 
the Perceval ; and said the story had been far better told 
by a certain Kyot, a singer of Provence.^ Nothing is 
known of the latter beyond Wolfram's praise. Perhaps he 
was an invention of Wolfram's ; not infrequently mediaeval 
poets referred to fictitious sources. At all events. Wolfram's 
sources were French or Provengal. In large measure the 
best German mediaeval poetry was an adaptation of the 
French ; a fact which did not prevent the German adapta- 
tions from occasionally surpassing the French works they 
were drawn from. In the instance of Wolfram's Parzival, 
as in that of Gottfried von Strassburg's Tristan, the German 
poems were the noblest renderings of these tales. 

As our author was a thoughtful German, his style is 
difficult and involved. Yet he had imagination, and his 

1 As a matter of fact, in those parts of Wolfram's poem which are covered 
by Chretien's unfinished Perceval le Gallois, the incidents are nearly identical 
with Chretien's. For the question of the relationship of the two poems, and for 
other versions of the Grail legend, see A. Nutt, Studies in the Legend of the Holy 
Grail (Folk-Lore Society Publications, London, 1888) ; Birch-Hirshfeld, Die 
Graal Sage ; Einleitung to Piper's edition of Wolfram von Eschenbach, Stuttgart, 
Deutsche Nat. Litteratur ; Einleitung to Bartch's edition in Deutsche Klassiker 
des Mittelalters (Leipzig, 1875). These two editions of the poem are furnished 
with modern German glossaries. There is a modern German version by 
Zimmrock, and an English translation by Jessie L. Weston (London, D. Nutt, 


poem is great in the climaxes of the story. It is a poem of 
the hero's development, his spiritual progress. Apparently 
it was Wolfram who first realized the profound significance 
of the Parzival legend. Both the choice of subject and the 
contents of the poem reflect his temperament and opinions. 
Wolfram was a knight, and chose a knightly tale ; for him 
knightly victories were the natural symbols of a man's 
progress. He was also one living in the world, prizing its 
gifts, and entertaining merely a perfunctory approval of 
ascetic renunciation. The loyal love between man and 
woman was to him earth's greatest good, and wedlock did 
not yield to celibacy in righteousness.^ Let fame and 
power and the glory of this world be striven for and won 
in loyalty and steadfastness and truth, in service of those 
who need aid, in mercy to the vanquished and in humility 
before God, with assurance that He is truth and loyalty and 
power, and never fails those who obey and serve Him. 

" While two wills {Zvifel, Z weif el = douht) dwell near the heart, 
the soul is bitter. Shamed and graced the man whose dauntless 
mood is — piebald ! In him both heaven and hell have part. 
Black-coloured the unsteadfast comrade ; white the man whose 
thoughts keep troth. False comradeship is fit for hell fire. Like- 
wise let women heed whither they carry their honour, and on 
whom they bestow their love, that they may not rue their troth. 
Before God, I counsel good women to observe right measure. 
Their fortress is shame : I cannot wish them better weal. The 
false one gains false reward ; her praise vanishes. Wide is the 
fame of many a fair ; but if her heart be counterfeit, 'tis a false 
gem set in gold. The woman true to womanhood, be hers the 
praise — not lessened by her outside hue. 

" Shall I now prove and draw a man and woman rightly ? 
Hear then this tale of love — joy and anguish too. My story tells 
of faithfulness, of woman's truth to womanhood, of man's to 
manhood, never flinching. Steel was he ; in strife his conquer- 
ing hand still took the guerdon ; he, brave and slowly wise, this 
hero whom I greet, sweet in the eyes of women, heart's malady 
for them as well, himself a very flight from evil deed." 

Such is Wolfram's Prologue. The story opens in a 
forest, where Queen Herzeloide had buried herself with 
her infant son after the death in knightly battle of Prince 

^ In other versions of the Grail legend there is much about the virgin or 
celibate state, and also plenty of unchastity and no especial esteem for marriage. 


Gahmuret, her husband. The broken-hearted, f ooHsh mother 
is seeking to keep her boy in ignorance of arms and knights. 
He has made himself a bow ; he shoots a bird — its song , 
is hushed. This is the child's first sorrow, and childish 
ignorance has been the cause ; as afterwards youth's folly 
and then man's lack of wisdom will cause that child, grown 
large, more lasting anguish. Now to see a bird makes his 
tears start. His still foolish mother orders her servants to 
kill them. The boy protests, and the mother with a quick 
caress declares the birds shall have peace, she will no more 
infringe God's commands. At this unknown name the boy 
cries out, " O mother ! what is God ? " " Son, I will tell 
thee. Brighter than the day is He — who put on a human 
face. Pray to Him in need ; His faithfulness helps men 
ever. There is another, hell's chief, black and false. Keep 
thy thoughts from him and from doubt's waverings." Away 
springs the boy again ; and in the forest he learns to throw 
the hunting-spear and slay the stags. One day he hears 
the sounds of hoofs. He waves his spear : " May now the 
devil come in all his rage ; I'd stand against him. My 
mother speaks of him in dread ; but she is just afraid." 
Three knights gallop up in glancing armour. He thinks 
each is a god ; falls on his knees before them. " Help, god, 
since thou canst help so well ! " " This fool blocks our 
path," cries one. A fourth, their lord, rides up, and the 
boy calls him God. 

" God ? — not I ; I gladly do His behests. Thou seest 
four knights." 

" Knights ? what is that ? If thou hast not God's 
power, then tell me, who makes knights ? " 

" Young sir, that does King Arthur ; go to him. He'll 
knight you — you seem to knighthood bom." 

The knights gazed on the boy, in whom God's craft 
showed clear. The boy touches their armour, their swords. 
The prince speaks over him : " Had I thy beauty ! God's 
gifts to thee are great — if thou wilt wisely fare. May He 
keep sorrow from thee ! " The knights rode on, while the 
boy sped to his mother, to tell her what he had seen. She 
was speechless. The boy would go to Arthur's Court. So 
she bethought her of a silly plan, to put fool's garb on him, 


that insult and scoff might drive him back to her. She 
also gave him counsel, wise and foolish. 

So the youth is launched. He rides away ; his mother 
dies of grief. As his path winds on, he finds a lady asleep 
in a pavilion, and following his mother's counsel he kisses 
her, and takes her ring by force ; trouble came from this 
deed of folly. Then he meets with Sigune, mourning a 
dead knight. He stops and promises to avenge her. She 
was his cousin and, recognizing him, called him by name, 
and spoke to him of his lineage. Then the youth is piloted 
by a fisherman, till, in the neighbourhood of Arthur's Court, 
he meets a knight, Ither, in red armour, who greets him, 
points out the way, and sends a challenge to Arthur and 
his Round Table. Parzival now finds himself at Arthur's 
thronging Court. The young Iwein first speaks to him and 
the fool-youth returns : " God keep thee — so my mother 
bade me say. Here I see so many Arthurs ; who is it that 
will make me knight ? " Iwein, laughing, leads him to the 
royal pavilion, where he says : " God keep you, gentles, 
especially the king and his wife — as my mother bade me 
greet — and all the honoured knights of the Round Table. 
But I cannot tell which one here is lord. To him a red 
knight sends a challenge ; I think he wants to fight. O ! 
might the king's hand grant me the Red Knight's harness ! " 
They crowd around the glorious youth. " Thanks, young sir, 
for your greeting which I shall hope to earn," said the king. 

" Would to God ! " cried the young man, quivering with 
impatience ; " the time seems years before I shall be knight. 
Give me knighthood now." 

" Gladly," returns the king. " Might I grant it to you 
worthily. Wait till to-morrow that I may knight you duly 
and with gifts." 

" I want no gifts — only that knight's armour. My 
mother can give me gifts ; she is a queen." 

Arthur feared to send the raw youth against the noble 
Ither, but yielded to the malignant spurring of Sir Kay, 
and Parzival rode out with his unknightly hunting-spear. 
Abruptly he bade Ither give him his horse and armour, and 
on the knight's sarcastic answer, grasped his horse's bridle. 
The angry Ither reversed his lance, and with the butt end 


struck down Parzival and his sorry nag, Parzival sprang 
to his feet and threw his spear straight through the visor of 
the other's helmet ; and the knight fell from his horse, dead. 
With brutal stupidity Parzival tried to pull his armour off, 
not knowing how to unlace it. Iwein came and showed 
him how to remove and wear the armour, and how to carry 
his shield and lance. So clad in Ither's armour and mounted 
on the great war-horse, he bids Iwein commend him to 
King Arthur, and rides off, leaving the other to care for the 
body of the dead knight. 

In the evening he reached the castle of an aged prince, 
who saw the marvellous youth come riding, with the fool 
garments showing out from under his armour. Courteously 
received, the youth enjoyed a bath, a repast, and a long 
night's sleep. Fortunately his mother had bade him follow 
the counsels of grey hairs ; so in the morning he put on the 
garments which his host had left in his room for him, instead 
of what his mother gave. The host first heard mass with 
his simple guest, and instructed him as to its significance, 
and how to cross himself and guard against the devil's wiles. 
Then they breakfasted, and the old man, having heard 
Parzival's story, advised him to leave off saying " My mother 
bade me," and gave him further counsel : " Preserve thy 
shame ; the shameless man is worthless, and at last, wins 
hell. You seem a mighty lord, mind you take pity on those 
in need ; be kind and generous and humble. The worthy 
man in need is shamed to beg ; anticipate his wants ; this 
brings God's favour. Yet be prudent, neither lavish nor 
miserly ; right measure be your rule. Sorely you need 
counsel; avoid harsh conduct, do not ask too many questions, 
nor yet refuse to answer a question fitly asked ; observe and 
listen. Let mercy temper valour. Spare him who yields, 
whatever wrong he has done you. When you lay off your 
armour, wash your hands and face ; make yourself neat ; 
woman's eye will mark it. Be manly and gay. Hold 
women in respect and love ; this increases a young man's 
honour. Be constant — that is manhood's part. Short his 
praise who betrays honest love. The night-thief wakes 
many foes ; against treachery true love has its own wisdom 
and resource. Gain its disfavour and your lot is shame." 


The guest thanked the host for his counsel. He spoke 
no more of his mother save in his heart. Then his host, 
remarking that he had seen many a shield hang better on a 
wall than Parzival's on him, took him out into a field ; and 
there in the company of other knights he instructed him in 
jousting, and found him a ready and resistless pupil. The 
old man looked fondly on him — ^his daughter Liasse — she 
is fair — would not Parzival think so, and stay as a son in 
the now sonless house ? Fair and chaste was the damsel, 
but Parzival says : " My lord, I am not wise. If I gain 
knighthood's praise so that I may look for love — then keep 
Liasse for me. You shall have less weight of grief if I can 
lighten it." 

Parzival's first experience of life and the old man's 
counsels had changed him. He was no longer the callow 
boy who a few days before in the forest took the knights for 
gods, but a young man conscious of his inexperience and 
lack of wisdom. Perhaps the change seems sudden ; but 
the subtle development of character had not yet found 
literary expression in the Middle Ages, and Wolfram here is 
a great pioneer. 

So the young knight rode away, carrying secret thoughts 
of the maiden, and a little pain, his heart lightly touched 
with love, and so made ready for a mightier passion. His 
horse carried him on through woods and savage mountains, 
to the kingdom whose capital, Pelrapeire, was besieged, 
because it held its queen, Condwiramurs {coin de voire 
amors). Within the town were famine and death, without, 
a knightly, cruel foe, King Clamide, who fought to win the 
queen by sack and ruin. Crossing a field and bridge where 
many a knight had fallen, Parzival reached a gate and 
knocked. A maid called out, and finding that he brought 
aid and not enmity, she admitted him. Armed men weak 
with hunger fill the streets, through which the maid leads 
the knight on to the palace. His armour is removed, a 
mantle brought him. " Will he see the queen, our lady ? " 
ask the attendants. " Gladly," answers Parzival. They 
enter the great hall — and the queen's fair eyes greet him. 
She advances surrounded by her ladies. With courtesy she 
kisses the knight, gives him her hand, and leads him to a 


seat. The faces of her warriors and women are sad and 
worn ; but she — ^had she contended with Enit and both 
Iseults fair, and whomsoever else men praise for beauty, 
hers had been the prize. 

The guest mused : " Liasse was there — Liasse is here ; 
God slacks my grief, here is Liasse." He sat silent by the 
queen, mindful of the old prince's advice not to ask questions. 
" Does this man despise me," thought she, " because I am 
no longer lovely ? No, he is the guest, the hostess I ; it 
is for me to speak." Then aloud : " Sir, a hostess must 
speak. Your greeting won a kiss from me ; you offered 
me your service — so said my maid. Rare offer now ! Sir, 
whence come you ? " 

" Lady, I rode this very day from the house of the good, 
well-remembered host. Prince Gurnemanz." 

" Sir, I had hardly believed this from another ; the way 
is so long. His sister was my mother. Many a sad day 
have I and his Liasse wept together. Since you bear kind- 
ness for that prince, I will tell you our grievous plight." 

The telling is deferred till some refreshment is obtained, 
and then Parzival is shown to his chamber. He sleeps ; but 
the sound of sobbing breaks his slumber. The hapless 
queen in her need had sought out her guest in the solitude 
of night ; she had cast herself on her knees by his couch ; 
her tears fall — on him, and he awakes. Touched with love 
and pity at the sight, Parzival sprang up. " Lady ! you 
mock me ? You should kneel to God." In honour they 
sit by each other, and the queen tells her story, how King 
Clamide and his seneschal have wasted her lands, unhappy 
orphan, slain her people, even her knightly defender, Liasse's 
brother — she will die rather than yield herself to him. 

Liasse's name stirs Parzival : " How can I help you ? " 

" Save me from that seneschal, who harries me and 

Parzival promises, and the queen steals away. The day 
is breaking, and Parzival hears the minster bells. Mass is 
sung, and the young knight arms and goes forth — the 
burghers' prayers go with him — against the host led by the 
seneschal. Parzival vanquishes him, grants him his life, and 
sends him to Arthur's Court. The townsmen receive the 




victor with acclaim, the queen embraces him. Who but he 
shall be her lord ? So their nuptials were celebrated, 
although Parzival felt the reward to be too great ; it were 
enough for him to touch her garment's hem. Soon King 
Clamide himself ordered an assault upon the town, only to 
meet repulse. He challenged Parzival, and, vanquished like 
his seneschal, was likewise sent to Arthur's Court. 

Love was strong between Queen Condwiramurs and 
Parzival her husband. One morning Parzival spoke to her 
in the presence of their people : " Lady, please you, with 
your permission, I would see how my mother fares and seek 
adventures. If thus I serve and honour you, your love is 
ample guerdon." 

From his wife and from all those who called him Lord, 
Parzival rode forth alone. He has to learn what pain and 
sorrow are ; the first teaching came now, as longing for his 
wife filled his heart with grief. In the evening he reached 
the shore of a lake, and saw a fisher in a boat, attired like a 
king.i The fisher directed him to a castle, promising there 
to be his host. Following his directions, Parzival came to a 
marvellously great castle, where, on saying that the fisher 
sent him, he was courteously received and his needs attended 
to. Sadness pervaded the great halls. The banquet-room, 
to which he was shown, was lighted by a hundred chandeliers, 
and around the walls were ranged a hundred couches. The 
host entered and lay down on one of them, made like a 
stretcher ; he seemed a stranger to joy. They covered him 
with furs and mantles, as a sick man. He beckoned Parzival 
to sit by him. As the hall filled with people, a squire 
entered carrying a bleeding lance, whereupon all present 
made lament. A procession of nobly clad ladies followed, 
bearing precious dishes, and at last among them a queen, 
Repanse de Schoye. She bore, upon a silken cushion, the 
fulness of all good, an object called the Grail. Only a 
maiden pure and true might carry it. There also came six 
other maids bearing each a flashing goblet ; and they set 
their burdens before the host. Water for the hands was then 
brought to the host and to his guest, and to the knights 

^ The Fisher King {roi pecheur) was the regular title of the Grail kings. See 
e.g. Pauline Paris, Romans de la Table Ronde, t. i. p. 306. 


ranged on the couches ; and tables were placed before them 
all. A hundred squires came and reverently took from the 
Grail all manner of food and wine, which they set before the 
knights, whatever each might wish. Everything came from 
the power of the Grail. 

Parzival wondered, but kept silence, thinking of the old 
prince's counsel not to ask many questions, and hoping to 
be told what all this might be. A squire brought a sword 
to the host, who gave it to the guest : "I bore this sword in 
all need, until God wounded me. Take it as amends for 
our sad hospitality. Rely on it in battle." 

The gift of the sword was Parzival's opportunity to ask 
his host what had stricken him. He let it pass. The feast 
was solemnly removed. " Your bed is ready, whenever you 
will rest," said the host ; and Parzival was shown to a bed- 
chamber, where he was left alone. But the knight did not 
sleep uncompanioned. Coming sorrow sent her messengers. 
Dreams overhung him, as a tapestry, woven of sword-strokes 
and deadly thrusts of lance. He was fighting dark, endless, 
battles for his life, till sweating in every limb he woke. Day 
shone through the window. " Where are the knaves to fetch 
my clothes ? " He heard no sound. He sprang up. His 
armour lay there, and the two swords — the one which he took 
from Ither and the one given him by his host. Thought he : 
" I have suffered such pain in my sleep, there must be hard 
work for me to-day. Is mine host in need, I will gladly aid 
him and her too, Repanse, who gave me this mantle ; yet I 
would not serve her for her love ; my own wife is as 

Parzival passed through the castle's empty halls, calling 
aloud in anger. He saw no one, heard no sound. In the 
courtyard he found his horse, and flung himself into the 
saddle. He rode through the open castle-gate, over the 
draw-bridge, which an unseen hand drew up before his 
horse's hoofs had fairly cleared it. He looked behind him 
in surprise. A squire cursed him : " May the sun scorch 
you ! Had you just used your mouth to ask a question of 
your host ! You missed it, goose ! " Parzival called for 
explanation, but the gates were swung to in his face. His 
joy was gone, his pain begun. By chance throw of the dice 



he had found and lost the Grail. He sees the ground torn 
as by the hoofs of knights riding hard. " These," thought 
he, " fight to-day for my host's honour. Their band would 
not have been shamed by me. I would not fail them in 
their need — so might I earn the bread I ate and this sword 
which their lord gave me. I carry it unearned. They 
think I am a coward." 

He followed the hoof tracks ; they led him on a way, 
then scattered and grew faint. The day was young. Under 
a linden sat a lady, holding the body of a knight embalmed. 
What earthly troth compared with hers ? He turned his 
horse to her : " Lady, your sorrow grieves my heart. Would 
my service avail you ? " 

" Whence come you ? Many a man has found death in 
this wood. Flee, as you love your life ; but, say, where did 
you spend the night ? " 

" In a castle not a league from here," 

" Do not deceive. You carry stranger shield. There 
is no house in thirty leagues, save one castle high and great. 
Those who seek it, find it not. It is only found unsought. 
Munsalvaesch its name. The ancient Titurel bequeathed it 
to his son Frimutel, a hero ; but in the jousts he won his 
death from love. Of his children, one is a hermit, Trevrizent ; 
another, Anfortas, is the castle's lord, and can neither ride 
nor walk, nor sit nor lie. But, sir, if you were there, may 
be that he is healed of his long pain," 

" Many marvels saw I there," he answered. 

She recognized the voice : " You are Parzival. Say, 
then, saw you the Grail and the joyless lord ? If his pain 
is stilled through you, then hail ! far as the wind blows 
spreads your glory, your dominion too." 

" How did you know me ? " said Parzival. 

" I am the maid who once before told you her grief, 
your kinswoman, who mourns her lover slain." 

" Alas ! where are thy red lips ? Art thou Sigune who 
told me who I was ? Where is fled thy long brown hair, 
thy loveliness and colour ? " 

Sigune spoke : " My only consolation were to hear that 
you have helped the helpless man whose sword you bear. 
Know you its gifts ? The first stroke it strikes well, at the 


second, breaks ; a word is needed that the sword may make 
its bearer peerless. Do you know this word ? If so, none 
can withstand you — ^have you asked the question ? " 

" I asked nothing." 

" Woe is me that mine eyes have seen you ! You asked 
no question ! You saw such wonders there — the Grail, the 
noble ladies, the bloody spear. Wretched, accursed man, 
what would you have from me ? Yours the false wolf-tooth ! 
You should have taken pity on your host, and asked his ail 
— then God had worked a miracle on him. You live, but 
dead to happiness." 

" Dear cousin, speak me fair. I will atone for any ill." 

" Atone ? nay, leave that ! At Munsalvaesch your 
honour and your knightly praise vanished. You get no 
more from me." 

Parzival's fault was not accident ; it sprang from what 
he was — unwise. He could atone only through becoming 
wise through the endurance of years of trial. The unhappy 
knight rode on, loosing his helmet to breathe more 
freely. Soon he chanced to overtake the lady Jesute, 
travelling on a mean horse in wretched guise, her garments 
torn, her face disfigured. He offered aid, and she, recognizing 
him, said with tears that her sorrows all were due to him ; 
she was the lady whose girdle and ring his fool's hand had 
taken, and now her husband Orilus treated her as a woman 
of shame. Here the proud duke himself came thundering 
up, to see what knight dared aid his cast-off wife. Parzival 
conquered him after a long combat ; and the three went to 
a hermitage where the victor made oath that it was he who 
took by force the ring and girdle from the blameless lady. 
Returning the ring to Orilus, he sent him with his lady, 
reconciled and happy, to Arthur's Court. Thus Parzival's 
knighthood made amends for his first foolish act. He 
found a strong lance in the hermitage, took it, and departed. 

When Orilus and his lady had been received with honour 
at Arthur's Court, the king with all his knights set forth 
towards Munsalvaesch to find the mighty man calling 
himself the Red Knight, who had sent so many conquered 
pledges of his prowess ; for he wished to make him a knight 
of the Round Table. It was winter. Parzival — the Red 


Knight — came riding from the opposite direction. As he 
drew near the encampment of the king, his eye hghted on 
three drops of blood showing clear red in the fresh-fallen 
snow ; in mid air above, a wild goose had been struck by 
a falcon. The knight paused in reverie — red and white — 
the colours carried his thoughts to his heart's queen, 
Condwiramurs. There he sat, as a statue on his horse, 
with poised spear ; his thoughts had flown to her whose 
image now closed his eyes to all else. A lad spied the 
great knight, and ran breathless to Arthur, to tell of the 
stranger who seemed to challenge all the Round Table. 
Segramors gained Arthur's permission to accost him. Out 
he rode with ready challenge ; Parzival neither saw nor 
heard, till his horse swerved at the knight's approach, so 
that he saw the drops no longer. Then his mighty lance 
fell in rest, Segramors was hurled to the ground, and took 
himself back discomfited, while Parzival returned to gaze 
on the drops of blood, lost in reverie as before. Now Kay 
the quarrelsome rode out, and roused the hero with a rude 
blow. The joust is run again, and Kay crawls back with 
broken leg and arm. Again Parzival loses himself in reverie. 
And now courtly Gawain, best of Arthur's knights, rides 
forth, unarmed. Courteously he addresses Parzival, who 
hears nothing, and sits moveless. Gawain bethinks him it 
is love that binds the knight. Seeing that Parzival is 
gazing on three drops of blood, he gently covers them with 
a silken cloth. Parzival's wits return ; he moans : " Alas, 
lady wife of mine, what comes between us ? A cloud has 
hidden thee." Then, astonished, he sees Gawain — a knight 
without lance or shield — does he come to mock ? With 
noble courtesy Gawain disclosed himself and led the way to 
Arthur's Court, where fair ladies and the king greeted the 
hero whom they had come to seek. A festival was ordained 
in his honour. The fair company of knights and ladies are 
seated about the Round Table ; the feast is at its height, 
when suddenly upon a gigantic mule, a scourge in her rough 
hand, comes riding the seeress Cundrie, harsh and unlovely. 
Straight she addresses Arthur : " Son of King Uterpendragon, 
you have shamed yourself and this high company, receiving 
Parzival, whom you call the Red Knight," She turns on 


Parzival : " Disgrace fall on your proud form and strength ! 
Sir Parzival, tell me, how came it that you met that joyless 
fisher, and did not help him ? He showed you his pain, 
and you, false guest, had no pity for him. Abhorred by all 
good men, marked for hell by heaven's Highest, you ban 
of happiness and curse of joy ! No leech can heal your 
sickened honour. Greater betrayal never shamed a man. so 
goodly. Your host gave you a sword ; you saw them bear 
the Grail, the silver dishes, and the bloody spear, and you, 
dishonoured Parzival, were silent. You failed to win earth's 
chiefest prize ; your father had not done so — are you his 
son ? Yes, for Herzeloide was as true as he. Woe's me, 
that Herzeloide' s child has so let honour slip ! " Cundrie 
wrung her hands ; her tears fell fast ; she turned her mule 
and cried : " Woe, woe to thee Munsalvaesch, mount of 
pain ; here is no aid for thee ! " And bidding none farewell, 
she rode away, leaving Parzival to his shame, the knights to 
their astonishment, the ladies to their tears. 

Cundrie was hardly out of sight, before another shame 
was put on the Round Table. An armed knight rode in, 
and, accusing Gawain of murdering his king and cousin, 
summoned him to mortal combat within forty days before 
the King of Askalon. Arthur himself was ready to do 
battle for Gawain, but that good knight accepted, the 
challenge with all courtesy. 

Parzival's lineage was first known to the Court from 
Cundrie' s calling him by name and speaking of his mother. 
Now Clamide, once Condwiramurs's cruel wooer, begged the 
hero to intercede for him with another fair one, the lady 
Cunneware. Parzival courteously complied. A heathen 
queen then saluted him with the news that he had a 
great heathen half-brother, Feirefiz, the son of Parzival's 
father by a heathen queen. Thanking her, Parzival spoke to 
the company : " I cannot endure Cundrie' s reproach ; — what 
knight here does not look askance ? I will seek no joy until 
I find the Grail, be the quest short or long. The worthy 
Gurnemanz bade me refrain from questions. Honoured 
knights, your favour is for me to win again, for I have lost 
it. Me yet unshamed you took into your company ; I 
release you. Let sorrow be my comrade ; for I forsook 


my happiness on Munsalvaesch. Ah ! helpless Anfortas ! 
You had small help from me." 

Knights and ladies were grieved to see the hero depart 
in such sorrow, and many a knight's service was offered him. 
The lady Cunneware took his hand ; Lord Gawain kissed 
him and said : "I know thy way is full of strife ; God grant 
to thee good fortune, and to me the chance to serve thee." 

" Ah ! what is God ? " answered Parzival. " Were He 
strong, He would not have put such shame on me and you. 
I was His subject from the hour I learned to ask His favour. 
Now I renounce His service. If He hates me, I will bear 
it. Friend, in thine hour of strife let the love of a woman 
pure and true strengthen thy hand. I know not when I 
shall see thee again ; may my good wishes towards thee be 

The hero's arms are brought ; his horse is saddled ; his 
grievous toil begins. 

Why should long sorrow come to Parzival for not asking 
a question, when his omission was caused neither by brutality 
nor ill will ? when, on the contrary, he would gladly have 
served his host ? The relation between his conduct and his 
fortune seems lame. Yet in life as well as in literature, 
ignorance and error bring punishment. Moreover, to 
mediaeval romance not only is there a background of 
sorcery and magic, but active elements of magic survive in 
the tales. ^ And nothing is more fraught with magic import 
and result than question and answer. Wolfram did not 
treat as magical the effect upon his hero's lot of his failure 
to ask the question ; but he retained the palpably magic 
4mport of the act as affecting the sick Anfortas. It was 
hard that the omission should have brought Parzival to 
sorrow and despair ; yet the fault was part of himself, and 
the man so ignorant and unwise was sure to incur calamity, 
and also gain sorrow's lessons if he was capable of learning. 
So the sequence becomes ethical : from error, calamity; from 
calamity, grief ; and from grief, wisdom. With Wolfram, 
Parzival' s fault was Parzival ; failure to ask the question was 
a symbol of his lack of wisdom. The poet was of his time ; 
and mediaeval thought tended to symbolism, and to move, 

^ E.g. the love-potion in the tale of Tristan. 


as it were, from symbol to symbol, and from symbolical 
significance to related symbolical significance, and indeed 
often to treat a symbol as if it were the fact which was 

At this point Wolfram's poem devotes some cantos to 
the lighter-hearted adventures of Gawain. This valiant, 
courtly, loyal knight and his adventures are throughout a 
foil to the heavier lot and character of Parzival. But when 
Gawain has had his due, the poet is glad to return to his 
rightful hero. Parzival has ridden through many lands ; he 
has sailed many seas ; before his lance no knight has kept 
his seat ; his praise and fame are spread afar. Though he 
has never been overthrown, the sword given him by Anfortas 
broke ; but with magic water Parzival welded it again. In 
a forest one day he rode up to a hut, where Sigune was 
living as a recluse, feeding her soul with thoughts of her 
dead lover, barring all fancies that might disunite her from 
the dead whom she still held as her husband. Parzival 
recognized her, and she him, when he removed his helm : 
" You are Sir Parzival — tell me, how is it with the Grail ? " 

" It has given me sorrow enough ; I left a land where 
I was king, a loving wife, fairest of women ; I suffer 
anguish for her love, and more because of that high goal of 
Munsalvaesch which is not reached. Cousin Sigune, knowing 
my sorrow, you do wrong to hate me." 

" My wrath is spent. You have lost joy enough since 
that time you failed to question Anfortas, your host — your 
happiness as well. Then that question would have blessed 
you ; now joy is denied you ; your high mood halts ; your 
heart is tamed by sorrow, which had stayed a stranger to it 
had you asked the question." 

" I acted as a luckless man. Dear cousin, counsel me — 
but, say, how is it with you ? I should bemoan your grief 
were not my own greater than man ever bore." 

" Let His hand help you who knows all sorrow. A 
path might bring you yet to Munsalvaesch. Cundrie but 
now rode hence — follow her track." 

Parzival started to follow the track of Cundrie's mule, 
which soon was lost, and with it the Grail was lost again. 



Without guidance he rode on. He overthrew a Grail 
knight, and took his horse, his own having been wounded 
in the combat. How long he rode I know not, says the 
poet. One frosty morning he met an aged knight un- 
helmeted, and walking barefoot with his wife and daughters. 
The knight reproved him for riding armed on that holy day. 

Parzival answered : " I do not know the time of year ; 
it is long since I kept count of days. Once I served Him 
who is called God — until He graced me with His mockery. 
He helps, men say. I have not found it so." 

" If you mean God who was born of a virgin," replied 
the old knight, " and believe that He took man's nature, 
you do wrong to ride in armour ; for this is the day when 
He hung on the Cross for us. Sir, not far from here dwells 
a holy man, who will give you counsel ; you may repent 
and be absolved from your sins." 

Parzival courteously took his leave. He had regarded 
his failure to ask that question as a luckless error, had felt 
that God was unjust to him, and had also doubted His 
power to aid. Now came wavering thoughts : " What if 
God might help my pain ? If He ever favoured a knight, 
or if sword and shield might win His favour — if to-day is 
His day of help, let Him help me if He can. If God's craft 
can show the way to man and horse, I'll honour Him. Go 
then according to God's choosing." 

He flung the bridle on his horse's neck, spurring him 
forward ; and the horse carried him straight to the hermitage 
of holy Trevrizent, who fasted there to fit himself for 
heaven, his chastity warring with the devil. Parzival 
recognized the place where he had sworn the oath to 
Orilus, to clear Jesute's honour. The hermit, seeing him, 
exclaimed : " Alas ! sir, that you ride equipped in this holy 
season. Were you sore pressed ? Another garb were fitter, 
did your pride permit. Come by the fire. If you follow 
love's adventure, think of that afterward, and this day seek 
the love which this day gives." 

Dismounting, Parzival stood respectfully before the 
hermit : " Sir, advise me ; I am a man of sin," 

His host promised counsel and asked how he came 
there. Parzival told of meeting the old knight, and inquired 


whether his host felt no fear at seeing him ride up. " Believe 
me, no," answered the hermit ; "I fear no man. I would 
not boast, but in my day my heart never quailed in the fight. 
I was a knight as you are, and had many sinful thoughts." 

Having placed the horse in shelter beneath a cliff, the 
hermit led the knight into his cell. There was a fire of 
coals, before which Parzival was glad to warm himself and 
exchange his steel armour for a cloak ; he seemed forest- 
weary. A door opened to an inner cell, where stood an 
altar, bearing the very reliquary on which Parzival had laid 
his hand in making oath. He told his host of this, and of 
the lance which he had found there and taken. " A friend 
of mine left it there, and chided with me afterwards. It is 
four years, six months, and three days since you took that 
spear ; I will prove it to you from this Psalter." 

" I did not know how long I had journeyed, lost and 
unhappy. I carry sorrow's weight. Sir, I will tell you 
more : from that time no man has seen me in church or 
minster, where they honour God. I have sought battles 
only. I also bear a hate for God. He is my trouble's 
sponsor : had He borne aid, my joy had not been buried 
living ! My heart is sore. In reward of my many fights, 
sorrow has set on me a crown — of thorns. I bear a grudge 
against that Lord of aid, that me alone He helps not." 

The host sighed, and looked at him ; then spoke : " Sir, 
be wise. You should trust God well. He will help you, 
it is His office ; He must help us both. Tell me with sober 
wits, how did your anger against Him arise ? Learn from 
me His guiltlessness before you accuse Him. His aid is 
never withheld. Even I, a layman, can read the meaning 
of those unlying books ; man must continue steadfast in 
service of Him who never wearies in His steady. aid to 
sinking souls. Keep troth, for God is troth. Deceit is 
hateful to Him. We should be grateful ; in our behalf His 
nobility took on the form of man. God is called, and is, 
truth. He can turn from no one ; teach your thoughts 
never to turn from Him. You can force nothing from Him 
with your wrath. Whoever sees you carry hate toward 
Him will deem you sick of wit. Think of Lucifer and all 
his comrades. Hell was their reward. When Lucifer and 


his host had taken their hell- journey, a man was made. 
God made from clay the worthy Adam. From Adam's 
flesh He took Eve, who brought us calamity when she 
listened not to her Creator, and destroyed our joy. Two 
sons were born to them. One of these in envious anger 
destroyed his grandmother's maidenhood, by sin." 

" Sir, how could that be ? " 

" The earth was Adam's mother, and was a maiden. 
Adam was Cain's father, who slew Abel ; and the blood fell 
on the pure earth ; its maidenhood was sped. Thence arose 
hate among men — and still endures. Nothing in the world 
is as pure as an innocent maid ; God was himself a maiden's 
child, and took the image of the first maid's fruit. With 
Adam's seed came sorrow and joy ; through him our lineage 
is from God, but through him, too, we carry sin, for which 
God took man's image, and so suffered, battling with troth 
against untroth. Turn to Him if you would not be lost. 
Plato, Sibyl the prophetess, foretold Him. With divine 
love His mighty hand plucked us from hell. The joyful 
news they tell of Him the True Lover is this : He is radiant 
light, and wavers not in His love. Men may have either 
His love or hate. The unrepentant sinner flees the divine 
faithfulness ; he who does penance wins his clemency. God 
penetrates thought, which is hidden to the sun's rays and 
needs no castle's ward. Yet God's light passes its dark 
wall, comes stealing in, and noiselessly departs. No thought 
so quick but He discovers it before it leaves the heart. The 
pure in heart He chooses. Woe to the man who harbours 
evil. What help is there in human craft for him whose 
deeds put God to shame ? You are lost if you act in His 
despite, who is prepared for either love or hate. Now 
change your heart ; with goodness earn His thanks." 

" Sir," says Parzival, " I am glad to be taught by you of 
Him who does not fail to reward both crime and virtue. 
With pain and struggle I have so borne my young life to 
this day that through keeping troth I have got sorrow." 

Parzival still feels his innocence ; perhaps the host is 
not so sure : " Prithee, be open with me. I would gladly 
hear your troubles and your sins. May be I can advise 



" The Grail is my chief woe and then my wife — she is 
beyond compare. For both of these I yearn." 

" Sir, you say well. Your grief is righteous if its cause 
is yearning for your wife. If you were cast to hell for other 
sins, but loyal to your wife, God's hand would lift you out. 
As for the Grail, you foolish man, pursuit will never win it, 
'Tis for him only who is named in heaven. I can say ; for 
I have seen it." 

" Sir, were you there ? " 

" I was." 

Parzival did not say that he had been there too ; but 
asked about the Grail. His host then told him of the 
valiant Templars who dwelt on Munsalvaesch, and rode 
thence on adventures as penance for their sins. " They are 
nourished by a Stone of marvellous virtue ; no sick man 
seeing it could die that week ; it gives youth and strength, 
and is called the Grail. To-day, as on every Good Friday, 
a dove flies from heaven and lays a wafer on the Grail, 
from which the Grail receives its share of every food and 
every good the earth or Paradise affords. The name of 
whosoever is chosen for the Grail, be it boy or girl, appears 
inscribed upon it, suddenly, and when read disappears. 
They come as children ; glad the mother whose child is 
named ; for taken to that company, it will be held from sin 
and shame, and be received in heaven when this life is past. 
Further, all those who took neither side in the war between 
Lucifer and the Trinity, were cast out of heaven to earth, 
and here must serve the Grail." 

Parzival spoke : "If knighthood might with shield and 
spear win earth's prize and Paradise for the soul — why I 
have fought wherever I found fight ; often my hand has 
touched the prize. If God is wise in conflicts. He should 
name me, that those people there may learn to know me. 
My hand never drew back." 

" First you must guard against pride, and practise 
modesty." The old man paused and then continued : 
" There was a Grail king named Anfortas. You and I 
should pity his sad lot which befell him through pride in 
youth and riches ; he loved in the world's light way — that 
also goes not with the Grail, There came once to the castle 



one unnamed, a simple man ; he went away, his sins upon 
his head ; he never asked the host what ailed him. 
Before that time a prince, Lahelein, approached and fought 
with a Grail knight, and slew him and took his horse. Sir, 
are you Lahelein ? you rode a Grail steed hither. I know 
his trappings well, and the dove's crest which Anfortas gave 
his knights. The old Titurel also wore that crest, and 
after him his son Frimutel, till he lost his life. Sir, you 
resemble him. Who are you ? " 

Each looked on the other. Parzival spoke : " My father 
was a knight. He lost his life in combat ; sir, include him 
in your prayers. His name was Gamuhret. I am not 
Lahelein ; yet in my folly once I too robbed the dead. My 
sinful hand slew Ither. I left him dead upon the sward — 
and took what was to take." 

" O world ! alas for thee ! heart's sorrow is thy pay ! " 
the hermit cried. " My nephew, it was your own flesh and 
blood you slew ; a deed which with God merits death. 
Ither, the pattern of all knights — how can you atone ? My 
sister too, your mother Herzeloide, you brought her to her 

" Oh no ! good sir, how say you that ? If I am your 
sister's child, oh tell me all." 

" Your mother died when you left her. My other sister 
was Sigune's mother ; our brother is Anfortas, who long 
has been the Grail's sad lord. We early lost our father, 
Frimutel ; from him Anfortas, his first-born, inherited the 
Grail crown, when still a child. As he grew a man, all too 
eagerly he followed the service set by love of woman, chose 
him a mistress and broke many a spear for her. He 
disobeyed the Grail, which forbids its lords love's service, 
save as it prescribes. One day, for his lady's favour, he ran 
a joust with a heathen knight. He slew him, but the 
heathen spear struck him, and broke, leaving a poisoned 
wound. In anguish he returned. No medicine or charm 
can heal that wound, and yet he cannot die ; that is the 
Grail's power. I renounced knighthood, flesh, and wine, in 
prayer that God would heal him. We knelt before the 
Grail, and on it read that when a knight should come, and, 
unadmonished, ask what ailed him, he should be sound 


again. That knight should then be the Grail's king, in place 
of Anfortas. Since then a knight did come — I spoke of him 
to you. He might as well have stayed away for all the honour 
that he won or aid he brought us. He did not ask : My lord, 
what brought you to this pass ? Stupidity forbade him," 

The two made moan together. It was noon. The host 
said : " Let us take food now, and tend your horse." They 
went out ; Parzival broke up some branches for his horse, 
while the host gathered a repast of herbs. Then they 
returned to the cell. " Dear nephew," said the hermit, " do 
not despise this food. At least, you will not find another 
host who would more gladly give you better." 

" Sir, may God's favour pass me by, if ever a host's care 
was sweeter to me." 

When they had eaten, they saw to the horse again, 
whose hungry plight grieved the old man because of the 
saddle with Anfortas' s crest. Then Parzival spoke : 

" Lord and uncle mine, if I dare speak for shame, I 
should tell you all my unhappiness. My troth takes refuge 
in you. My misdeeds are so sore, that if you cast me off I 
shall go all my days unloosed from my remorse. Take pity 
with good counsel on a fool. He who rode to Munsalvaesch, 
and saw that pain, and asked no question, that was I, mis- 
fortune's child. Thus have I, sir, misdone." 

" Nephew ! Alas ! We both may well lament — ^where 
were your five senses ? Yet I will not refuse thee counsel. 
You must not grieve overmuch, but, in lament and laying 
grief aside, follow right measure. Would that I might 
refresh and hearten you, so that you would push on, and not 
despair of God. You might still cure your sorrow. God 
will not forsake you. I counsel thee from Him." 

His host then told Parzival more about Anfortas' s pains, 
and about the Grail people, then the story of his own life 
before he renounced knighthood, and also about Ither. 
" Ither was your kin. If your hand forgot this kinship, 
God will not. You must do penance for this deadly sin, and 
also for your mother's death. Repent of your misdeeds and 
think of death, so that your labour here below may bring 
peace to your soul above." 

These two deadly sins of Parzival were done unwittingly, 


and unwitting was his neglect to ask the question. His 
guilt was thoughtlessness and stupid ignorance. It is im- 
possible not to think of Oedipus, and compare the Christian 
mediaeval treatment of unwitting crimes with the classical 
Greek consideration of the same dark subject. Oedipus 
sinned as unwittingly as Parzival, and as impulsively. His 
ruin was complete. Afterwards — ^in the Oedipus Coloneus 
— ^his character gathers greatness through submission to the 
necessary consequences of his acts ; this was his spiritual 
expiation. On the other hand, mercy, repentance, hope, the 
uplifting of the unwitting sinner, forgiveness and consolation, 
soften and glorify the Christian mediaeval story. 

Parzival stayed some days at the hermitage. At parting 
the hermit spoke words of comfort to him : " Leave me your 
sins. I will be your surety with God for your repentance. 
Perform what I have bidden you, and do not waver." 

The story here turns to Gawain. In the tale of his 
adventures there comes a glimpse of Parzival. A proud 
lady, for whose love Gawain is doing perilous deeds, tells 
him she has never met a man she could not bend to her will 
and love, save only one. That one came and overthrew her 
knights. She offered him her land and her fair self ; his 
answer put her to shame : " The glorious Queen of Pelrapeire 
is my wife, and I am Parzival. I will have none of your 
love. The Grail gives me other care." 

Gawain won this lady, and conducted her to Arthur's 
Court, whither his rival the haughty King Gramoflanz was 
summoned to do battle with him. On the morning set for 
the combat Gawain rode out a little to the bank of a river, 
to prove his horse and armour. There at the river rode a 
knight ; Gawain deemed it was Gramoflanz. They rush 
together ; man and horse go down in the joust. The 
knights spring to their feet and fight on with their swords. 
Meanwhile Gramoflanz, with a splendid company, has arrived 
at Arthur's Court. The lists are ready ; Gramoflanz stands 
armed. But where is Gawain ? He was not wont to tarry. 
Squires hurry out in search, to find him just falling before 
the blows of the stranger. They call, Gawain ! and the 
unknown knight throws away his sword with a great cry : 
"Wretched and worthless ! Accursed is my dishonoured hand. 


Be mine the shame. My luckless arms ever — and now again 
— strike down my happiness. That I should raise my hand 
against noble Gawain ! It is myself that I have overthrown." 

Gawain heard him : " Alas, sir, who are you that speak 
such love towards me ? Would you had spoken sooner, 
before my strength and praise had left me." 

" Cousin, I am your cousin, ready to serve you, Parzival." 

" Then you said true ! This fool's fight of two hearts 
that love ! Your hand has overthrown us both." 

Gawain could no longer stand. Fainting they laid him 
on the grass. Gramoflanz rides up, and is grieved to find 
his rival in no condition to fight. Parzival offers to take 
Gawain' s place ; but Gramoflanz declines, and the combat is 
postponed till the morrow. Parzival is then escorted to 
Arthur's Court, where Gawain would have him meet fair 
ladies ; he holds back, thinking of the shame once put on 
him there by Cundrie. Gawain insists, and ladies greet the 
knight. Arthur again makes Parzival one of the Round 
Table. Early the next morning, Parzival, changing his arms, 
meets Gramoflanz in the lists, before Gawain has arrived ; 
and vanquishes him. Then comes Gawain and offers to 
postpone the combat as Gramoflanz had done. So the 
combat is again set for the next day. In the meanwhile, 
however, various matters come to light and explanations are 
had ; Arthur succeeds in reconciling the rival knights and 
adjusting their relations to the ladies. So the Court becomes 
gay with wedding festivals, and all is joy. 

Except with Parzival. His heart is torn with pain and 
yearning for his wife. He muses : " Since I could love, how 
has love dealt with me ! I was born from love ; why have 
I lost love ? I must seek the Grail ; yet how I yearn for 
the sweet arms of her from whom I parted — so long ago ! 
It is not fit that I should look on this joyful festival with 
anguish in my heart." There lay his armour : " Since I 
have no part in this joy, and God wills none for me ; and 
the love of Condwiramurs banishes all wish for other 
happiness — now God grant happiness to all this company. 
I will go forth." He put his armour on, saddled his horse, 
took spear and shield, and fled from the joyous Court, as the 
day was dawning. 


And now he meets a heathen knight, approaching with 
a splendid following. They rode a great joust ; and the 
heathen wondered to find a knight abide his lance. They 
fought with swords together, till their horses were blown ; 
they sprang on the ground, and there fought on. Then the 
heathen thought of his queen ; the love-thought brought him 
strength, and he struck Parzival a blow that brought him to 
his knee. Now rouse thee, Parzival ; why dost thou not 
think on thy wife ? Suddenly he thought of her, and how he 
won her love, vanquishing Clamide before Pelrapeire. Straight 
her aid came to him across four kingdoms, and he struck 
the heathen down ; but his sword — once Ither's — ^broke. 

The foolish evil deed of Parzival in slaying Ither seems 
atoned for in the breaking of this sword. Had it not broken, 
great evil had been done. The great-hearted heathen 
sprang up. " Hero, you would have conquered had that 
sword not broken. Be peace between us while we rest." 

They sat together on the grass. " Tell me your name," 
said the heathen ; "I have never met as great a knight." 

" Is it through fear, that I should tell my name ? " 

" Nay, I will name myself — Feirefiz of Anjou." 

" How of Anjou ? that is my heritage. Yet I have 
heard I had a brother. Let me see your face. I will not 
attack you with your helmet off." 

" Attack me ? it is I that hold the sword ; but let neither 
have the vantage." He threw his sword far from them. 

With joy and tears the brothers recognized each other ; 
and long and loving was their speech. Then they rode 
back together to the Court. They entered Gawain's tent. 
Arthur came to greet them, and with him many knights. At 
Arthur's request each of the great brothers told the long list 
of his knightly victories. The next day Feirefiz was made 
a knight of the Round Table, and a grand tournament was 
held. Then the feast followed ; and again, as once before, 
to the great company seated at the table, Cundrie came 
riding. She greeted the king ; then turned to Parzival, and 
in tears threw herself at his feet and begged a greeting and 
forgiveness. Parzival forgives her. She rises up and cries : 
" Hail to thee, son of Gahmuret — Herzeloide's child. 
Humble thyself in gladness. The high lot is thine, thou 


cfown of human blessing. Thou shalt be the Grail's lord ; 
with thee thy wife Condwiramurs, and thy sons Lohengrin 
and Kardeiz, whom she bore to thee after thy going. Thy 
mouth shall question Anfortas — unto his joy. Now the 
planets favour thee ; thy grief is spent. The Grail and the 
Grail's power shall let thee have no part in evil. When 
young, thou didst get thee sorrow, which betrayed thy joy 
as it came ; — thou hast won thy soul's peace, and in sorrow 
thou hast endured unto thy life's joy." 

Tears of love sprang from Parzival's heart and fell from 
his eyes : " Lady, if this be true, that God's grace has granted 
me, sinful man, to have my children and my wife, God has 
been good to me. Loyally would you make good my losses. 
Before, had I not done amiss, you would not have been angry. 
At that time I was yet unblessed. Now tell me, when and 
how I shall go meet my joy. Oh ! let me not be stayed ! " 

There was no more delay. Parzival was permitted to 
take one comrade ; he chose Feirefiz. Cundrie guided them 
to the Grail castle. They entered to find Anfortas calling 
on death to free him of his pain. Weeping, and with prayer 
to God, Parzival asked what ailed him, and the king was 
healed. Then Parzival rode' again to Trevrizent. The 
hermit breaks out in wonder at the power of God, which 
man cannot comprehend ; let Parzival obey Him and keep 
from evil ; that any one should win the Grail by striving 
was unheard of ; now this has come to Parzival, let him be 
humble. The hero yearns for his wife — where is she ? He 
is told ; there by the meadow where he once saw the drops 
of blood he finds her and his sons, asleep in their tent. 
They are united ; Parzival is made Grail king ; and the 
queen Repanse is given in marriage to Feirefiz, who is 
baptized and departs with her. Lohengrin is named as 
Parzival's successor, while Kardeiz receives the kingdoms 
which had been Gahmuret's and Herzeloide's. 



The romantic growth and imaginative shaping of chivalric 
love having been followed in the fortunes of its great 
exemplars, Tristan, Iseult, Lancelot, Guinevere, Parzival, a 
different illustration of mediaeval passion may be had by 
turning from these creations of literature to an actual 
woman, whose love for a living man was thought out as 
keenly and as tragically felt as any heart-break of imagined 
lovers, and was impressed with as entire a self -surrender as 
ever ravished the soul of nun panting with love of the 

There has never been a passion between a man and 
woman more famous than that which brought happiness 
and sorrow to the lives of Abaelard and Heloise. Here 
fame is just. It was a great love, and its course was a 
perfect soul's tragedy. Abaelard was a celebrity, the 
intellectual glory of an active-minded epoch. His love- 
story has done as much for his posthumous fame as all his 
intellectual activities. Heloise became known in her time 
through her relations with Abaelard ; in his songs her name 
was wafted far. She has come down to us as one of the 
world's love-heroines. Yet few of those who have been 
touched by her story have known that Heloise was a great 
woman, possessed of an admirable mind, a character which 
proved its strength through years, and, above all, a capacity 
for loving — for loving out to the full conclusions of love's 
convictions, and for feeling in their full range and power 
whatever moods and emotions could arise from an unhappy 
situation and a passion as deeply felt as it was deeply 
thought upon. 



Abaelard was not a great character — aside from his 
intellect. He was vain and inconsiderate, a man who 
delighted in confounding and supplanting his teachers, and 
in being a thorn in the flesh of all opponents. But he 
became chastened through his misfortunes and through 
Heloise's high and self-sacrificing love. In the end, perhaps, 
his love was worthy of the love of Heloise. Yet her love 
from the beginning was nobler and deeper than his love of 
her. Love was for him an incident in his experience, then 
an element in his life. Love made the life of Heloise ; it 
remained her all. Moreover, in the records of their passion, 
Heloise's love is unveiled as Abaelard's is not. For all 
these reasons, the heart of Heloise rather than the heart 
of Abaelard discloses the greatness of a love that wept itself 
out in the twelfth century, and it is her love rather than his 
that can teach us much regarding the mediaeval capacity for 
loving. Hers is a story of mediaeval womanhood, and sin, 
and repentance perhaps, with peace at last, or at least the 
lips shut close and further protest foregone. 

Abaelard's stormy intellectual career ^ and the story 
of the love between him and the canon's niece are well 
known. Let us follow him in those parts of his narrative 
which disclose the depth and power of Heloise's love for 
him. We draw from his Historia calamitatum, written " to 
a friend," apparently an open letter intended to circulate. 

" There was," writes he, referring to the time of his 
sojourn in Paris, when he was about thirty-six years old, 
and at the height of his fame as a lecturer in the schools — 

" There was in Paris a young girl named Heloise, the niece of 
a canon, Fulbert. It was his affectionate wish that she should 
have the best education in letters that could be procured. Her 
face was not unfair, and her knowledge was unequalled. This 
attainment, so rare in women, had given her great reputation. 

" I had hitherto lived continently, but now was casting my 
eyes about, and I saw that she possessed every attraction that 
lovers seek ; nor did I regard my success as doubtful, when I 
considered my fame and my goodly person, and also her love of 
letters. Inflamed with love, I thought how I could best become 
intimate with her. It occurred to me to obtain lodgings with her 

1 See post, Chapter XXXVIL, i. 


uncle, on the plea that household cares distracted me from study. 
Friends quickly brought this about, the old man being miserly 
and yet desirous of instruction for his niece. He eagerly entrusted 
her to my tutorship, and begged me to give her all the time I could 
take from my lectures, authorizing me to see her at any hour of 
the day or night, and punish her when necessary. I marvelled 
with what simplicity he confided a tender lamb to a hungry wolf. 
As he had given me authority to punish her, I saw that if caresses 
would not win my object, I could bend her by threats and blows. 
Doubtless he was misled by love of his niece and my own good 
reputation. Well, what need to say more : we were united first 
by the one roof above us, and then by our hearts. Our hours of 
study were given to love. The books lay open, but our words 
were of love rather than philosophy, there were more kisses than 
aphorisms ; and love was oftener reflected in our eyes than the 
lettered page. To avert suspicion, I struck her occasionally — 
very gentle blows of love. The joy of love, new to us both, 
brought no satiety. The more I was taken up with this pleasure, 
the less time I gave to philosophy and the schools — how tiresome 
had all that become ! I became unproductive, merely repeating 
my old lectures, and if I composed any verses, love was their 
subject, and not the secrets of philosophy ; you know how 
popular and widely sung these have become. But the students ! 
what groans and laments arose from them at my distraction ! 
A passion so plain was not to be concealed ; every one knew of 
it except Fulbert. A man is often the last to know of his own 
shame. Yet what everybody knows cannot be hid forever, and 
so after some months he learned all. Oh how bitter was that 
uncle's grief ! and what was the grief of the separated lovers ! 
How ashamed I was, and afflicted at the affliction of the girl ! 
And what a storm of sorrow came over her at my disgrace. 
Neither complained for himself, but each grieved at what the 
other must endure." 

Although Abaelard was moved at the plight of Heloise, 
he bitterly felt his own discomfiture in the eyes of the once 
admiring world. But the sentence touching Heloise is a 
first true note of her devoted love : what a storm of sorrow 
{moeroris aestus) came over her at my disgrace. Through 
this trouble and woe, Heloise never thought of her own pain 
save as it pained her to be the source of grief to Abaelard. 

Abaelard continues : 

" The separation of our bodies joined our souls more closely 
and inflamed our love. Shame spent itself and made us un- 
ashamed, so small a thing it seemed compared with satisfying 


love. Not long afterwards the girl knew that she was to be a 
mother, and in the greatest exultation wrote and asked me to 
advise what she should do. One night, as we agreed on, when 
Fulbert was away I bore her off secretly and sent her to my own 
country, Brittany, where she stayed with my sister till she gave 
birth to a son, whom she named Astralabius. 

" The uncle, on his return to his empty house, was frantic. 
He did not know what to do to me. If he should kill or do me 
some bodily injury, he feared lest his niece, whom he loved, would 
suffer for it among my people in Brittany. He could not seize 
me, as I was prepared against all attempts. At length, pitying 
his anguish, and feeling remorse at having caused it, I went to him 
as a suppliant and promised whatever satisfaction he should 
demand. I assured him that nothing in my conduct would seem 
remarkable to any one who had felt the strength of love or would 
take the pains to recall how many of the greatest men had been 
thrown down by women, ever since the world began. Where- 
upon I offered him a satisfaction greater than he could have 
hoped, to wit, that I would marry her whom I had corrupted, if 
only the marriage might be kept secret so that it should not injure 
me in the minds of men. He agreed and pledged his faith, and 
the faith of his friends, and sealed with kisses the reconciliation 
which I had sought — so that he might more easily betray me ! " 

It will be remembered that Abaelard was a clerk, a 
clericus, in virtue of his profession of letters and theology. 
Never having taken orders, he could marry ; but while a 
clerk's slip could be forgotten, marriage might lead people 
to think he had slighted his vocation, and would certainly 
bar the ecclesiastical preferment which such a famous clericus 
might naturally look forward to. Nevertheless, he at once 
set out to fetch Heloise from Brittany, to make her his wife. 

The stand which she now took shows both her mind 
and heart : 

" She strongly disapproved, and urged two reasons against 
the marriage, to wit, the danger and the disgrace in which it 
would involve me. She swore — and so it proved — that no satis- 
faction would ever appease her uncle. She asked how she was 
to have any glory through me when she should have made me 
inglorious, and should have humiliated both herself and me. 
What penalties would the world exact from her if she deprived it 
of such a luminary ; what curses, what damage to the Church, 
what lamentations of philosophers, would follow on this marriage. 
How indecent, how lamentable would it be for a man whom nature 
had made for all, to declare that he belonged to one woman, and 


subject himself to such shame. From her soul, she detested this 
marriage which would be so utterly ignominious for me, and a 
burden to me. She expatiated on the disgrace and inconvenience 
of matrimony for me and quoted the Apostle Paul exhorting men 
to shun it. If I would not take the apostle's advice or Usten to 
what the saints had said regarding the matrimonial yoke, I should 
at least pay attention to the philosophers — to Theophrastus's 
words upon the intolerable evils of marriage, and to the refusal of 
Cicero to take a wife after he had divorced Terentia, when he said 
that he could not devote himself to a wife and philosophy at the 
same time. ' Or,' she continued, ' laying aside the disaccord 
between study and a wife, consider what a married man's 
establishment would be to you. What sweet accord there would 
be between the schools and domestics, between copjdsts and 
cradles, between books and distaffs, between pen and spindle ! 
Who, engaged in religious or philosophical meditations, could 
endure a baby's crying and the nurse's ditties stilling it, and all 
the noise of servants ? Could you put up with the dirty ways of 
children ? The rich can, you say, with their palaces and apart- 
ments of all kinds ; their wealth does not feel the expense or the 
daily care and annoyance. But I say, the state of the rich is not 
that of philosophers ; nor have men entangled in riches and affairs 
any time for the study of Scripture or philosophy. The renowned 
philosophers of old, despising the world, fleeing rather than 
relinquishing it, forbade themselves all pleasures, and reposed in 
the embraces of philosophy.' " 

Speaking thus, Heloise fortified her argument with 
quotations from Seneca, and the examples of Jewish and 
Gentile worthies and Christian saints, and continued : 

" It is not for me to point out — for I would not be thought to 
instruct Minerva — how soberly and continently all these men lived 
who, according to Augustine and others, were called philosophers 
as much for their way of life as for their knowledge. If laymen 
and Gentiles, bound by no profession of rehgion, lived thus, surely 
you, a clerk and canon, should not prefer low pleasures to sacred 
duties, nor let yourself be sucked down by this Charybdis and 
smothered in filth inextricably. If you do not value the privilege 
of a clerk, at least defend the dignity of a philosopher. If 
reverence for God be despised, still let love of decency temper 
immodesty. Remember, Socrates was tied to a wife, and through 
a nasty accident wiped out this blot upon philosophy, that others 
afterwards might be more cautious ; which Jerome relates in his 
book against Jovinianus, how once when enduring a storm of 
Xanthippe's clamours from the floor above, he was ducked with 
slops, and simply said, ' I knew such thunder would bring rain.' 


" Finally she said that it would be dangerous for me to take 
her back to Paris ; it was more becoming to me, and sweeter to 
her, to be called my mistress, so that affection alone might keep 
me hers and not the binding power of any matrimonial chain ; 
and if we should be separated for a time, our joys at meeting 
would be the dearer for their rarity. When at last with all her 
persuasions and dissuasions she could not turn me from my folly, 
and could not bear to offend me, with a burst of tears she ended 
in these words : ' One thing is left : in the ruin of us both the 
grief which follows shall not be less than the love which went 
before.' Nor did she here lack the spirit of prophecy." 

Heloise's reasonings show love great and true and her 
absolute devotion to Abaelard's interests. None the less 
striking is her clear intelligence. She reasoned correctly ; 
she was right, the marriage would do great harm to Abaelard 
and little good to her. We see this too, if we lay aside our 
sense of the ennobling purity of marriage — a sentiment not 
commonly felt in the twelfth century. Marriage was holy 
in the mind of Christ. But it did not preserve its holiness 
through the centuries which saw the rise of monasticism and 
priestly celibacy. A way of life is not pure and holy when 
another way is holier and purer ; this is peculiarly true 
in Christianity, which demands the ideal best with such 
intensity as to cast reflection on whatever falls below the 
highest standard. From the time of the barbarian inroads, 
on through the Carolingian periods, and into the later 
Middle Ages, there was enough barbarism and brutality to 
prevent the preservation, or impede the development, of a 
high standard of marriage. Not monasticism, but his own 
half-barbarian, lustful heart led Charlemagne to marry and 
remarry at will, and have many mistresses besides. It was 
the same with the countless barons and mediaeval kings, 
rude and half civilized. This was barbarous lust, not due 
to the influence of monasticism. But, on the other hand, 
it was always the virgin or celibate state that the Church 
held before the eyes of all this semi-barbarous laity as the 
ideal for a Christian man or woman. The Church sanctioned 
marriage, but hardly lauded it or held it up as a condition 
in which lives of holiness and purity could be led. Such 
were the sentiments in which Heloise was born and bred. 
They were subconscious factors in her thoughts regarding 


herself and her lover. Devoted and unselfish was her love ; 
undoubtedly Heloise would have sacrificed herself for 
Abaelard under any social conditions. Nevertheless, with 
her, marriage added little to love ; it was a mere formal 
and binding authorization ; love was no purer for it. To 
her mind, for a man in Abaelard' s situation to be entangled 
in a temporary amour was better than to be chained to his 
passion, with his career irrevocably ruined, in marriage. In 
so far as her thoughts or Abaelard's were influenced by the 
environment of priestly thinking, marriage would seem a 
rendering permanent of a passionate and sinful state, which 
it were best to cast off altogether. For herself, as she said 
truly, the marriage would bring obloquy rather than re- 
instatement. She had been mistress to a clerk ; marriage 
would make her the partner of his abandonment of his 
vocation, the accomplice of broken purposes if not of broken 
vows. And finally, as there was then no line of disgrace as 
now between bastard and lawful issue, Heloise had no 
thought that the interests of her son demanded that his 
mother should become his father's wife. 

" Leaving our son in my sister's care, we stole back to Paris, 
and shortly after, having in the night celebrated our vigils in a 
certain church, we were married at dawn in the presence of her 
uncle and some of his and our friends. We left at once separately 
and with secrecy, and afterwards saw each other only in privacy, 
so as to conceal what we had done. But her uncle and his house- 
hold began at once to announce the marriage and violate his word ; 
while she, on the contrary, protested vehemently and swore that it 
was false. At that he became enraged and treated her vilely. 
When I discovered this I sent her to the convent of Argenteuil, 
near Paris, where she had been educated. There I had her take 
the garb of a nun, except the veil. Hearing this, the uncle and his 
relations thought that I had duped them, ridding myself of Heloise 
by making her a nun. So having bribed my servant, they came 
upon me by night, when I was sleeping, and took on me a 
vengeance as cruel and irretrievable as it was vile and shameful. 
Two of the perpetrators were pursued and vengeance taken. 

" In the morning the whole town was assembled, crying and 
lamenting my plight, especially the clerks and students ; at which 
I was afflicted with more shame than I suffered physical pain. I 
thought of my ruined hopes and glory, and then saw that by God's 
just judgment I was punished where I had most sinned, and that 


Fulbert had justly avenged treachery with treachery. But what 
a figure I should cut in public ! how the world would point its 
finger at me ! I was also confounded at the thought of the 
Levitical law, according to which I had become an abomination 
to the Church.^ In this misery the confusion of shame — I confess 
it — rather than the ardour of conversion drove me to the cover of 
the cloister, after she had willingly obeyed my command to take 
the veil. I became a monk in the abbey of St. Denis, and she a 
nun in the convent of Argenteuil. Many begged her not to set 
that yoke upon her youth ; at which, amid her tears, she broke - 
out in Cornelia's lament : ' O great husband ! undeserving of my 
couch ! Has fortune rights over a head so high ? Why did I, 
impious, marry thee to make thee wretched ? Accept these 
penalties, which I gladly pay.' ^ With these words, she went 
straight to the altar, received the veil blessed by the bishop, and 
took the vows before them all." 

Abaelard's Historia calamitatum now turns to troubles 
having no connection with Heloise : his difficulties with the 
monks of St. Denis, with other monks, with every one, in 
fact, except his scholars ; his arraignment before the Council 
of Soissons, the public burning of his book, De JJnitate et 
Tfinitate divina, and various other troubles, till, seeking a 
retreat, he constructed an oratory on the bank of the 
Ardisson. He named it the Paraclete, and there he taught 
and lectured. He was afterwards elected abbot of a 
monastery in Brittany, where he discovered that those under 
him were savage beasts rather than monks. Here the 
Historia calamitatum was written. 

The monks of St. Denis had never ceased to hate 
Abaelard for his assertion that their great Saint was not 
really Dionysius the Areopagite who heard Paul preach. 
Their abbot now brought forward and proved an ancient 
title to the land where stood the convent of Argenteuil, " in 
which," to resume Abaelard's account, 

" she, once my wife, now my sister in Christ, had taken the veil, 
and was at this time prioress. The nuns were rudely driven out. 
News of this came to me as a suggestion from the Lord to bethink 
me of the deserted Paraclete. Going thither, I invited Heloise and 
her nuns to come and take possession. They accepted, and I gave 
it to them. Afterward Pope Innocent 11. confirmed this grant to 
them and their successors in perpetuity. There for a time they 

1 Lev, xxi, 20 ; Deut. xxiii. i. ^ Lucan, Pharsalia, viii. 94. 


lived in want ; but soon the Divine Pity showed itself the true 
Paraclete, and moved the people of the neighbourhood to take 
compassion on them, and they soon knew no lack. Indeed as 
women are the weaker sex, their need moves men more readily to 
pity, and their virtues are the more grateful to both God and man. 
And on our sister the Lord bestowed such favour in the eyes of all, 
that the bishops loved her as a daughter, the abbots as a sister, the 
laity as a mother ; and all wondered at her piety, her wisdom, and 
her gentle patience in everything. She rarely let herself be seen, 
that she might devote herself more wholly to prayers and medita- 
tions in her cell ; but all the more persistently people sought her 
spiritual counsel." 

What were those meditations and those prayers uttered 
or unuttered in that cell ? They did not always refer to the 
kingdom of heaven, judging from the abbess's first letter to 
her former lover. After the installation of Heloise and her 
nuns, Abaelard rarely visited the Paraclete, although his 
advice and instruction was desired there. His visits gave 
rise to too much scandal. In the course of time, however, 
the Historia calamitatum came into the hands of Heloise, 
and occasioned this letter, which seems to issue forth out of 
a long silence ; ten years had passed since she became a 
nun. The superscription is as follows : 

" To her master, rather to a father, to her husband, rather to a 
brother, his maid or rather daughter, his wife or rather sister, to 
Abaelard, Heloise. 

" Your letter, beloved, written to comfort a friend, chanced 
recently to reach me. Seeing by its first Hues from whom it was, I 
burned to read it for the love I bear the writer, hoping also from 
its words to recreate an image of him whose life I have ruined. 
Those words dropped gall and absinthe as they brought back the 
unhappy story of our intercourse and thy ceaseless crosses, my 
only one. Truly the letter must have convinced the friend that 
his troubles were Mght compared with yours, as you showed the 
treachery and persecutions which had followed you, the calumnies 
of enemies and the burning of your glorious book, the machina- 
tions of false brothers, and the vile acts of those worthless monks 
whom you call your sons. No one could read it with dry eyes. 
Your perils have renewed my griefs ; here we all despair of your 
life and each day with trembling hearts expect news of your death. 
In the name of Christ, who so far has somehow preserved thee for 
himself, deign with frequent letters to let these weak servants of 
Him and thee know of the storms overwhelming the swimmer, so 


that we who alone remain to thee may be participators of thy pain 
or joy. One who grieves may gain consolation from those grieving 
with him ; a burden borne by many is more lightly borne. And 
if this tempest abates, how happy shall we be to know it. What- 
ever the letters may contain they will show at least that we are not 
forgotten. Has not Seneca said in his letter to Lucilius, that the 
letters of an absent friend are sweet ? When no malice can stop 
your giving us this much of you, do not let neglect prove a bar. 

" You have written that long letter to console a friend with 
the story of your own misfortunes, and have thereby roused our 
grief and added to our desolation. Heal these new wounds. 
You owe to us a deeper debt of friendship than to him, for we are 
not only friends, but friends the dearest, and your daughters. 
After God, you alone are the founder of this place, the builder of 
this oratory and of this congregation. This new plantation for a 
holy purpose is your own ; the delicate plants need frequent 
watering. He who gives so much to his enemies, should consider 
his daughters. Or, leaving out the others here, think how this is 
owing me from thee : what thou owest to all women under vows, 
thou shalt pay more devotedly to thine only one. How many 
books have the holy fathers written for holy women, for their 
exhortation and instruction ! I marvel at thy forgetfulness of 
these frail beginnings of our conversion. Neither respect of God 
nor love of us nor the example of the blessed fathers, has led thee 
by speech or letter to console me, cast about, and consumed with 
grief. This obligation was the stronger, because the sacrament 
of marriage joined thee to me, and I — every one sees it — cling to 
thee with unmeasured love. 

" Dearest, thou knowest — who knows not ? — how much I lost 
in thee, and that an infamous act of treachery robbed me of thee 
and of myself at once. The greater my grief, the greater need of 
consolation, not from another but from thee, that thou who art 
alone my cause of grief may be alone my consolation. It is thou 
alone that canst sadden me or gladden me or comfort me. And 
thou alone owest this to me, especially since I have done thy will 
so utterly that, unable to offend thee, I endured to wreck myself 
at thy command. Nay, more than this, love turned to madness 
and cut itself off from hope of that which alone it sought, when I 
obediently changed my garb and my heart too in order that I 
might prove thee sole owner of my body as well as of my spirit. 
God knows, I have ever sought in thee only thyself, desiring simply 
thee and not what was thine. I asked no matrimonial contract, 
I looked for no dowry ; not my pleasure, not my will, but thine 
have I striven to fulfil. And if the name of wife seemed holier or 
more potent, the word mistress {arnica) was always sweeter to me, 
or even — ^be not angry ! — concubine or harlot ; for the more I 


lowered myself before thee, the more I hoped to gain thy favour, 
and the less I should hurt the glory of thy renown. This thou 
didst graciously remember, when condescending to point out in 
that letter to a friend some of the reasons (but not all !) why I 
preferred love to wedlock and hberty to a chain. I call God to 
witness that if Augustus, the master of the. world, would honour 
me with marriage and invest me with equal rule, it would 
still seem to me dearer and more honourable to be called thy 
strumpet than his empress. He who is rich and powerful is not 
the better man : that is a matter of fortune, this of merit. And 
she is venal who marries a rich man sooner than a poor man, and 
yearns for a husband's riches rather than himself. Such a woman 
deserves pay and not affection. She is not seeking the man but 
his goods, and would wish, if possible, to prostitute herself to one 
still richer, Aspasia put this clearly when she was trying to effect 
a reconcihation between Xenophon and his wife : ' Until you 
come to think that there is nowhere else a better man or a woman 
more desirable, you will be continually looking for what you think 
to be the best, and will wish to be married to the man or woman 
who is the very best.' This is indeed a holy, rather than a philo- 
sophical sentiment, and wisdom, not philosophy, speaks. This is 
the holy error and blessed deception between man and wife, when 
affection perfect and unimpaired keeps marriage inviolate not so 
much by continency of body as by chastity of mind. But what 
with other women is an error, is, in my case, the manifest truth : 
since what they suppose in their husbands, I — and the whole world 
agrees — know to be in thee. My love for thee is truth, being free 
from all error. Who among kings or philosophers can vie with 
your fame ? What country, what city does not thirst to see you ? 
Who, I ask, did not hurry to see you appearing in pubHc and crane 
his neck to catch a last glimpse as you departed ? What wife, 
what maid did not yearn for you absent, and burn when you were 
present ? What queen did not envy me my joys and couch ? 
There were in you two qualities by which you could draw the soul 
of any woman, the gift of poetry and the gift of singing, gifts which 
other philosophers have lacked. As a distraction from labour, 
you composed love-songs both in metre and in rhyme, which for 
their sweet sentiment and music have been sung and resung and 
have kept your name in every mouth. Your sweet melodies do 
not permit even the ilhterate to forget you. Because of these 
gifts women sighed for your love. And, as these songs sung of our 
loves, they quickly spread my name in many lands, and made me 
the envy of my sex. What excellence of mind or body did not 
adorn your youth ? No woman, then envious, but now would 
pity me bereft of such delights. What enemy even would not 
now be softened by the compassion due me ? 


" I have brought thee evil, thou knowest how innocently. 
Not the result of the act but the disposition of the doer makes 
the crime ; justice does not consider what happens, but through 
what intent it happens. My intent towards thee thou only hast 
proved and alone canst judge. I commit everything to thy 
weighing and submit to thy decree. 

" Tell me one thing : why, after our conversion, commanded 
by thee, did I drop into oblivion, to be no more refreshed by 
speech of thine or letter ? Tell me, I say, if you can, or I will 
say what I feel and what every one suspects : desire rather than 
friendship drew you to me, lust rather than love. So when 
desire ceased, whatever you were manifesting for its sake like- 
wise vanished. This, beloved, is not so much my opinion as the 
opinion of all. Would it were only mine and that thy love 
might find defenders to argue away my pain. Would that I 
could invent some reason to excuse you and also cover my cheap- 
ness. Listen, I beg, to what I ask, and it will seem small and 
very easy to you. Since I am cheated of your presence, at least 
put vows in words, of which you have a store, and so keep before 
me the sweetness of thine image. I shall vainly expect you to 
be bountiful in acts if I find you a miser in words. Truly I 
thought that I merited much from you, when I had done all for 
your sake and still continue in obedience. When little more 
than a girl I took the hard vows of a nun, not from piety but at 
your command. If I merit nothing from thee, how vain I deem 
my labour ! I can expect no reward from God, as I have done 
nothing from love of Him. Thee hurrying to God I followed, or 
rather went before. For, as you remembered how Lot's wife 
turned back, you first delivered me to God bound with the vow, 
and then yourself. That single act of distrust, I confess, grieved 
me and made me blush. God knows, at your command I would 
have followed or preceded you to fiery places. For my heart is 
not with me, but with thee ; and now more than ever, if not with 
thee it is nowhere, for it cannot exist without thee. That my 
heart may be well with thee, see to it, I beg ; and it will be weU 
if it finds thee kind, rendering grace for grace — a little for much. 
Beloved, would that thy love were less sure of me so that it 
might be more solicitous ; I have made you so secure that you 
are negligent. Remember all I have done and think what you 
owe. While I enjoyed carnal joy with you, many people 
were uncertain whether I acted from love or lust. Now the end 
makes clear the beginning ; I have cut myself off from pleasure 
to obey thy will, I have kept nothing, save to be more than 
ever thine. Think how wicked it were in thee where all the 
more is due to render less, nothing almost ; especially when 
Httle is asked, and that so easy for you. In the name of God to 


whom you have vowed yourself, give me that of thee which is 
possible, the consolation of a letter. I promise, thus refreshed, 
to serve God more readily. When of old you would call me to 
pleasures, you sought me with frequent letters, and never failed 
with thy songs to keep thy Heloise on every tongue ; the streets, 
the houses re-echoed me. How much fitter that you should now 
incite me to God than then to lust ? Bethink thee what thou 
owest ; heed what I ask ; and a long letter I will conclude with 
a brief ending : farewell only one ! " 

Remarks upon this letter would seem to profane a shrine 
— had the man profaned that shrine ? He had not always 
worshipped there. Heloise knew this, for all her love. She 
said it too, writing in phraseology which had been brutalized 
through the denouncing spirit of Latin monasticism. How 
truly she puts the situation and how clearly she thinks 
withal, discerning as it were the beautiful and true in love 
and marriage. The whole letter is well arranged, and written 
in a style showing the writer's training in Latin mediaeval 
rhetoric. It was not the less deeply felt because composed 
with care and skill. Evidently the writer is of the Middle 
Ages ; her occasional prolixity was not of her sex but of 
her time ; and she quotes the ancients so naturally ; what 
they say should be convincing. How the letter bares the 
motives of her own conduct : not for God's sake, or the 
kingdom of heaven's sake, but for Abaelard's sake she 
became a nun. She had no inclination thereto ; her letters 
do not indicate that she ever became really and spontaneously 
devoted to her calling. Abaelard was her God, and as her 
God she held him to the end ; though she applied herself 
to the consideration of religious topics, as we shall see. 
Moreover, her position as nun and abbess could not fail to 
force such topics on her consideration. 

Is there another such love-letter, setting forth a situation 
so triple-barred and hopeless ? And the love which fills the 
letter, which throbs and burns in it, which speaks and argues 
in it, how absolute is this love. It is love carried out to its 
full conclusions ; it includes the whole woman and the whole 
of her life ; whatever lies beyond its ken and care is scorned 
and rejected. This love is extreme in its humility, and yet 
realizes its own purity and worth ; it is grieved at the 
thought of rousing a feeling baser than itself. Heloise had 


been and still was Heloise, devoted and self-sacrificing in 
her love. But the situation has become torture ; her heart 
is filled with all manner of pain, old and new, till it is driven 
to assert its right at least to consolation. Thus Heloise's 
love becomes insistent and requiiing. Was it possibly 
burdensome to the man who now might wish to think no 
more of passion ? who might wish no longer to be loved in 
that way ? In his reply Abaelard does not unveil himself ; 
he seems to take an attitude which may have been the most 
faithful expression that he could devise of his changed self. 
" To Heloise his beloved sister in Christ, Abaelard her brother 
in the Same." 

This superscription was a gentle reminder of their present 
relationship — in Christ. The writer begins : his not having 
written since their conversion was to be ascribed not to his 
negligence, but to his confidence in her wisdom ; he did not 
think that she who, so full of grace, had consoled her sister 
nuns when prioress, could as abbess need teaching 01* 
exhortation for the guidance of her daughters ; but if, in 
her humility, she felt the need of his instruction in matters 
pertaining to God, she might write, and he would answer, 
as the Lord should grant. Thanks be to God who had 
filled their hearts — hers and her nuns — with solicitude for 
his perils, and had made them participators in his afflictions ; 
through their prayers the divine pity had protected him. 
He had hastened to send the Psalter, requested by his sister, 
formerly dear to him in the world and now most dear in 
Christ, to assist their prayers. The potency of prayer, with 
God and the saints, and especially the prayer of women for 
those dear to them, is frequently declared in Scripture ; he 
cites a number of passages to prove it. May these move 
her to pray for him. He refers with affectionate gratitude 
to the prayers which the nuns had been offering for him, 
and encloses a short prayer for his safety, which he begs and 
implores may be used in their daily canonical hours. If the 
Lord, however, delivers him into the hands of his enemies 
to kill him, or if he meet his death in any way, he begs that 
his. body may be brought to the Paraclete for burial, so that 
the sight of his sepulchre may move his daughters and 
sisters in Christ to pray for him ; no place could be so safe 


and salutary for the soul of one bitterly repenting of his sins, 
as that consecrated to the true Paraclete — the Comforter ; 
nor could fitter Christian burial be found than among women 
devoted by their vows to Christ, He begs that the great 
solicitude which they now have for his bodily safety, they 
will then have for the salvation of his soul, and by the 
suffrage of their prayer for the dead man show how they 
had loved him when alive. The letter closes, not with a 
personal word to Heloise, but with this distich : 

"Vive, vale, vivantque tuae valeantque sorores, 
Vivite, sed Christo, quaeso, mei memores." 

Thus as against Heloise' s beseeching love, Abaelard 
lifted his hands, palms out, repelling it. His letter ignored 
all that filled the soul and the letter of Heloise. His reply 
did not lack words of spiritual affection, and its tone was 
not as formal then as it now seems. When Abaelard asked 
for the prayers of Heloise and her nuns, he meant it ; he 
desired the efficacy of their prayers. Then he wished to be 
buried among them. We are touched by this ; but, again, 
Abaelard meant it, as he said, for his soul's welfare — it was 
no love sentiment. The letter stirred the heart of Heloise 
to a rebellious outcry against the cruelty of God, if not of 
Abaelard, a soul's cry against life and the calm attitude of 
one who no longer was — or at least meant to be no longer 
— ^what he had been to her. 

" To her only one, next to Christ, his only one in Christ. 

" I wonder, my only one, that contrary to epistolary custom 
and the natural order of things, in the salutation of your letter 
you have placed me before you, a woman before a man, a wife 
before a husband, a servant before her lord, a nun before a monk 
and priest, a deaconess before an abbot. The proper order is 
for one writing to a superior to put his own name last, but when 
writing to an inferior, the writer's name should precede. We 
also marvelled, that where you should have afforded us consola- 
tion, you added to our desolation, and excited the tears you 
should have quieted. How could we restrain our tears when 
reading what you wrote towards the end : ' If the Lord shall 
deliver me into the hand of my enemies to slay me ' ! Dearest, 
how couldst thou think or say that ? May God never forget His 
handmaids, to leave them living when you are no more ! May 
He never allot to us that life, which would be harder than any death! 


It is for you to perform our obsequies and commend our souls to 
God, and send before to God those whom you have gathered for 
Him — that you may have no further anxiety, and follow us the 
more gladly because assured of our safety. Refrain, my lord, I 
beg, from making the miserable most miserable with such words ; 
destroy not our life before we die. ' Sufficient unto the day is 
the evil thereof ' — and that day will come to all with bitterness 
enough. ' What need,' says Seneca, ' to add to evil, and destroy 
life before death ? ' 

" Thou askest, only one, that, in the event of thy death 
when absent from us, we should have thy body brought to our 
cemetery, in order that, being always in our memory, thou 
shouldst obtain greater benefit from our prayers. Did you think 
that your memory could slip from us ? How could we pray, 
with distracted minds ? What use of tongue or reason would be 
left to us ? When the mind is crazed against God it will not 
placate Him with prayer so much as irritate Him with complaints. 
We could only weep, pressing to follow rather than bury you. 
How could we live after we had lost our life in you ? The thought 
of your death is death to us ; what would be the actuality ? 
God grant we shall not have to pay those rites to one from whom 
we look for them ; may we go before and not follow ! A heart 
crushed with grief is not calm, nor is a mind tossed by troubles 
open to God. Do not, I beg, hinder the divine service to which 
we are dedicated. 

" What remains of hope for me when thou art gone ? Or 
what reason to continue in this pilgrimage, where I have no 
solace save thee ? and of thee I have but the bare knowledge 
that thou dost live, since thy restoring presence is not granted 
me. Oh ! — if it is right to say it — how cruel has God been to 
me ! Inclement Clemency ! Fortune has emptied her quiver 
against me, so that others have nothing to fear ! If indeed a 
single dart were left, no place could be found in me for a new 
wound. Fortune fears only lest I escape her tortures by death. 
Wretched and unhappy ! in thee I was lifted above all women ; 
in thee am I the more fatally thrown down. What glory did I 
have in thee ! what ruin have I now ! Fortune made me the 
happiest of women that she might make me the most miserable. 
The injury was the more outrageous in that all ways of right 
were broken. While we were abandoned to love's dehghts, the 
divine severity spared us. When we made the forbidden lawful 
and by marriage wiped out fornication's stains, the Lord's 
wrath broke on us, impatient of an unsullied bed when it long had 
borne with one defiled. A man taken in adultery would have 
been amply punished by what came to you. What others 
deserved for adultery, that you got from the marriage which you 


thought had made amends for everything. Adulteresses bring 
their paramours what your own wife brought you. Not when 
we hved for pleasure, but when, separated, we Lived in chastity, 
you presiding at the Paris schools, I at thy command dweUing 
with the nuns at Argenteuil ; you devoted to study, I to prayer 
and holy reading ; it was then that you alone paid the penalty 
for what we had done together. Alone you bore the punishment, 
which you deserved less than I. When you had humihated 
yourself and elevated me and all my kin, you little merited that 
punishment either from God or from those traitors. Miserable 
me, begotten to cause such a crime ! O womankind ever the 
ruin of the noblest men ! ^ 

" Well the Tempter knows how easy is man's overthrow 
through a wife. He cast his malice over us, and the man whom he 
could not throw down through fornication, he tried with marriage, 
using a good to bring about an evil where evil means had failed. 
I thank God at least for this, that the Tempter did not draw me 
to assent to that which became the cause of the evil deed. Yet, 
although in this my mind absolves me, too many sins had gone 
before to leave me guiltless of that crime. For long a servant of 
forbidden joys, I earned the punishment which I now suffer of 
past sins. Let the evil end be attributed to ill beginnings ! 
May my penitence be meet for what I have done, and may long 
remorse in some way compensate for the penalty you suffered ! 
What once you suffered in the body, may I through contrition 
bear to the end of life, that so I may make satisfaction to thee if 
not to God. To confess the infirmities of my most wretched 
soul, I can find no penitence to offer God, whom I never cease to 
accuse of utter cruelty towards you. Rebellious to His rule, I 
offend Him with indignation more than I placate Him with 
penitence. For that cannot be called the sinner's penitence 
where, whatever be the body's suffering, the mind retains the 
will to sin and still burns with the same desires. It is easy in 
confession to accuse oneself of sins, and also to do penance with 
the body ; but hard indeed to turn the heart from the desire of 
its greatest joys ! ^ Love's pleasures, which we knew together, 
cannot be made displeasing to me nor driven from my memory. 
Wherever I turn, they press upon me, nor do they spare my 
dreams. Even in the solemn moments of the Mass, when prayer 
should be the purest, their phantoms catch my soul. When I 
should groan for what I have done, I sigh for what I have lost. 
Not only our acts, but times and places stick fast in my mind, 
and my body quivers. O truly wretched me, fit only to utter 

^ Heloise here in mediaeval fashion cites a number of examples from Scripture 
showing the ills and troubles brought by women to men. 

^ Again she quotes to prove this, from Job and St. Gregory and Ambrose. 


this cry of the soul : ' Wretched that I am, who shall deliver me 
from the body of this death ? ' Would I could add with truth 
what follows : — ' I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' 
Such thanksgiving, dearest, may be thine, by one bodily ill 
cured of many tortures of the soul, and God may have been 
merciful where He seemed against you ; like a good physician 
who does not spare the pain needed to save life. But I am 
tortured with passion and the fires of memory. They call me 
chaste, who do not know me for a hypocrite. They look upon 
purity of the flesh as virtue — which is of the soul, not of the body. 
Having some praise from men, I merit none from God, who 
knows the heart. I am called religious at a time when most 
religion is hypocrisy, and when whoever keeps from offence 
against human law is praised. Perhaps it seems praiseworthy 
and acceptable to God, through decent conduct, — whatever the 
intent — to avoid scandahzing the Church or causing the Lord's 
name to be blasphemed or the religious Order discredited. Per- 
haps it may be of grace just to abstain from evil. But the 
Scripture says, ' Refrain from evil and do good ' ; and vainly he 
attempts either who does not act from love of God. God knows 
that I have always feared to offend thee more than I feared to 
offend Him ; and have desired to please thee rather than Him. 
Thy command, not the divine love,put on me this garb of religion. 
What a wretched life I lead if I vainly endure all this here and 
am to have no reward hereafter. My hypocrisy has long deceived 
you, as it has others, and therefore you desire my prayers. 
Have no such confidence ; I need your prayers ; do not 
withdraw their aid. Do not take away the medicine, thinking 
me whole. Do not cease to think me needy ; do not think me 
strong ; do not delay your help. Cease from praising me, I beg. 
No one versed in medicine will judge of inner disease from out- 
ward view. Thy praise is the more perilous because I love it, 
and desire to please thee always. Be fearful rather than confident 
regarding me, so that I may have the help of your care. Do not 
seek to spur me on, by quoting, ' For strength is made perfect 
in weakness,' or ' He is not crowned unless he have contended 
lawfully.' I am not looking for the crown of victory ; enough 
for me to escape peril ; — safer to shun peril than to wage war ! 
In whatever little corner of heaven God puts me, that will satisfy 
me. Hear what Saint Jerome says : ' I confess my weakness ; 
I do not wish to fight for the hope of victory, lest I lose.' Why 
give up certainties to follow the uncertain ? " 

This letter gives a view of Heloise's mind, its strong 
grasp and its capacity for reasoning, though its reasoning is 
here distraught with passion. Scathingly, half-blinded by 


her pain, she declares the perversities of Providence, as they 
glared upon her. Such a disclosure of the woman's mind 
suggests how broadly based in thought and largely reared was 
that great love into which her whole soul had been poured, 
the mind as well as heart. Her love was great, unique, not 
only from its force of feehng, but from the power and scope 
of thought by which passion and feeling were carried out so 
far and fully to the last conclusions of devotion. The letter 
also shows a woman driven by stress of misery to utter cries 
and clutch at remedies that her calmer self would have put 
by. It is not hypocrisy to conceal the desires or imaginings 
which one would never act upon. To tell these is not true 
disclosure of oneself, but slander. Torn by pain, Heloise 
makes herself more vile and needy than in other moments 
she knew herself to be. Yet the letter also uncovers her ; 
and in nakedness there is some truth. Doubtless her nun's 
garb did clothe a hypocrite. Whatever she felt — and here 
we see the worst she felt — before the world she had to act 
the nun. We shall soon see how she forced herself to act, 
or be, the nun toward Abaelard. 

Abaelard replied in a letter filled with religious argument 
and consolation. It was self-controlled, firm, authoritative, 
and strong in those arguments regarding God's mercy which 
have stood the test of time. If they sometimes fail to satisfy 
the embittered soul, at least they are the best that man 
has known. And withal, the letter is calmly and nobly 
affectionate — what place was there for love's protestations ? 
They would have increased the evil, adding fuel to Heloise's 
passionate misery. 

The master -note is struck in the address : "To the 
spouse of Christ, His servant." The letter seeks to turn 
Heloise's thoughts to her nun's calling and her soul's salva- 
tion. It places her expressions of complaint under four 
heads. First, he had put her name first, because she had 
become his superior from the moment of her bridal with his 
master Christ. Jerome writing to Eustochium called her 
Lady, when she had become the spouse of Jerome's Lord. 
Abaelard shows, with citations from the Song of Songs, the 
glory of the spouse, and how her prayers should be sought 
by one who was the servant of her Husband. Second, as to 


the terrors roused in her by his mention of his peril and 
possible death, he points out that in her first letter she had 
bidden him write of those perils ; if they brought him death, 
she should deem that a kind release. She should not wish 
to see his miseries drawn out, even for her sake. Third, he 
shows that his praise of her was justified even by her dis- 
claimer of merit — as it is written. Who humbles himself shall 
be exalted. He warns her against false modesty which may 
be vanity. 

He turns at last to the old and ceaseless plaint which 
she makes against God for cruelty, when she should rather 
glorify Him ; he had thought that that bitterness had 
departed, so dangerous for her, so painful to him. If she 
wished to please him, let her lay it aside ; retaining it, she 
could not please him or advance with him to blessedness ; let 
her have this much religion, not to separate herself from him 
hastening to God ; let her take comfort in their journeying to 
the same goal. He then shows her that his punishment 
was just as well as merciful ; he had deserved it from God 
and also from Fulbert. If she will consider, she will see in it 
God's justice and His mercy ; God had saved them from ship- 
wreck ; had raised a barrier against shame and lust. For 
himself the punishment was purification, not privation ; will 
not she, as his inseparable comrade, participate in the work- 
ings of this grace, even as she shared the guilt and its 
pardon ? Once he had thought of binding her to him in 
wedlock ; but God found a means to turn them both to Him ; 
and the Lord was continuing His mercy towards her, causing 
her to bring forth spiritual daughters, when otherwise she 
would only have borne children in the flesh ; in her the curse 
of Eve is turned to the blessing of Mary. God had purified 
them both ; whom God loveth he correcteth. Oh ! let her 
thoughts dwell with the Son of God, seized, dragged, beaten, 
spit upon, crowned with thorns, hung on a vile cross. Let 
her think of Him as her spouse, and for Him let her make 
lament ; He bought her with himself. He loved her. In 
comparison with His love, his own (Abaelard's) was lust, 
seeking the pleasure it could get from her. If he, Abaelard, 
had suffered for her, it was not willingly nor for her sake, as 
Christ had suffered, and for her salvation. Let her weep for 


Him who made her whole, not for her corrupter ; for her 
Redeemer, not for her defiler ; for the Lord who died for her, 
not for the hving servant, himself just freed from the death. 
Let his sister accept with patience what came to her in mercy 
from Him who wounded the body to save the soul. 

" We are one in Christ, as through marriage we were one 
flesh. Whatever is thine is not alien to me. Christ is thine, 
because thou art His spouse. And now thou hast me for a 
servant, who formerly was thy master — a servant united to thee 
by spiritual love. I trust in thy pleading with Him for such 
defence as my own prayers may not obtain. That nothing may 
hinder this petition I have composed this prayer, which I send 
thee : ' O God, who formed woman from the side of man and 
didst sanction the sacrament of marriage ; who didst bestow 
upon my frailty a cure for its incontinence ; do not despise the 
prayers of thy handmaid, and the prayers which I pour out for 
my sins and those of my dear one. Pardon our great crimes, 
and may the enormity of our faults find the greatness of thy 
ineffable mercy. Punish the culprits in the present ; spare, in 
the future. Thou hast joined us, Lord, and hast divided us, as 
it pleased thee. Now complete most mercifully what thou hast 
begun in mercy ; and those whom thou hast divided in this world, 
join eternally in heaven, thou who art our hope, our portion, 
our expectation, our consolation. Lord blessed forever. Amen.' 

" Farewell in Christ, spouse of Christ ; in Christ farewell and 
in Christ live. Amen." 

In her next letter Heloise obeys, and turns her pen if 
not her thoughts to the topics suggested by Abaelard's 
admonitions. The short scholastically phrased address 
cannot be rendered in any modern fashion : " Domino 
specialiter sua singulariter." 

" That you may have no further reason to call me disobedient, 
your command shall bridle the words of unrestrained grief ; in 
writing I will moderate my language, which I might be unable 
to do in speech. Nothing is less in our power than our heart ; 
which compels us to obey more often than it obeys us. When 
our affections goad us, we cannot keep the sudden impulse from 
breaking out in words ; as it is written, ' From the fulness of the 
heart the mouth speaketh.' So I will withhold my hand from 
writing whenever I am unable to control my words. Would 
that the sorrowing heart were as ready to obey as the hand that 
writes ! You can afford some remedy to grief, even when unable 
to dispel it quite. As one nail driven in drives out another, a 



new thought pushes away its predecessor, and the mind is freed 
for a time. A thought, moreover, takes the mind up and leads 
it from others more effectually, if the subject of the thought is 
excellent and of great importance." 

The rest of this long letter shows Heloise putting her 
principles in practice. She is forcing her mind to consider 
and her pen to discourse upon topics which might properly 
occupy an abbess's thoughts — topics, moreover, which 
would satisfy Abaelard and call forth long letters in reply. 
Whether she cared really for these matters or ever came 
to care for them ; or whether she turned to them to distract 
her mind and keep up some poor makeshift of intercourse 
with one who would and could no longer be her lover ; or 
whether all these motives mingled, and in what proportion, 
perhaps may best be left to Him who tries the heart. 

The abbess writes : 

" All of us here, servants of Christ and thy daughters, make 
two requests of thy fathership which we deem most needful. 
The one is, that you would instruct us concerning the origins of 
the order of nuns and the authority for our calling. The other 
is, that you would draw up a written regula, suitable for women, 
which shall prescribe and set the order and usages of our convent. 
We do not find any adequate regula for women among the works 
of the holy Fathers. It is a manifest defect in monastic institu- 
tions that the same rules should be imposed upon both monks 
and nuns, and that the weaker sex should bear the same monastic 
yoke as the stronger." 

Heloise, having set this task for Abaelard, proceeds to 
show how the various monastic regulae, from Benedict's 
downward, failed to make suitable provision for the habits 
and requirements and weaknesses of women, the regulae 
hitherto having been concerned with the weaknesses of men. 
She enters upon matters of clothing and diet, and every- 
thing concerning the lives of nuns. She writes as one 
learned in Scripture and the writings of the Fathers, and 
sets the whole matter forth, in its details, with admirable 
understanding of its intricacies. She concludes, reminding 
Abaelard that it is for him in his lifetime to set a regula 
for them to follow forever ; after God, he is their founder. 
They might thereafter have some teacher who would build 
in alien fashion ; such a one might have less care and 


understanding, and might not be as readily obeyed as 
himself ; it is for him to speak, and they will listen. 

The first of Heloise's letters is a great expression of a 
great love ; in the second, anguish drives the writer's hand ; 
in the third, she has gained self-control ; she suppresses her 
heart, and writes a letter which is discursive and impersonal 
from the beginning to the little Vale at the end. 

Abaelard returned a long epistle upon the Scriptural 
origin of the order of nuns, and soon followed it with 
another, still longer, containing instruction, advice, and rules 
for the nuns of the Paraclete. He also wrote them a letter 
upon the study of Scripture. From this time forth he 
proved his devotion to Heloise and her nuns by the large 
body of writings which he composed for their edification. 
Heloise sent him a long list of questions upon obscure 
phrases and knotty points of Scripture, which he answered 
diligently in detail.^ He then sent her a collection of 
hymns written or " rearranged " by himself for the use of 
the nuns, accompanied by a prefatory letter : "At thy 
prayers, my sister Heloise, once dear to me in the world, 
now most dear in Christ, I have composed what in Greek 
are called hymns, and in Hebrew tillim." He then explains 
why, yielding to the requests of the nuns, he had written 
hymns, of which the Church had such a store. 

Next he composed for them a large volume of sermons, 
which he also sent with a letter to Heloise : " Having 
completed the book of hymns and sequences, revered in 
Christ and loved sister Heloise, I have hastened to compose 
some sermons for your congregation ; I have paid more 
attention to the meaning than the language. But perhaps 
an unstudied style is well suited to simple auditors. In 
composing and arranging these sermons I have followed the 
order of Church festivals. Farewell in the Lord, servant 
of His, once dear to me in the world, now most dear in 
Christ : in the flesh then my wife, now my sister in the 
spirit and partner in our sacred calling," 

^ Heloise's last problema did not relate to Scripture, and may have been 
suggested by her own life. " We ask whether one can sin in doing what is per- 
mitted or commanded by the Lord ? " Abaelard answers with a discussion of 
what is permissible between man and wife. 


At a subsequent period, when his opinions were con- 
demned by the Council of Sens, he sent to Heloise a 
confession of faith. Shortly afterward his stormy life 
found a last refuge in the monastery of Cluny. His closing 
years (of peace ?) are described in a letter to Heloise from 
the good and revered abbot, Peter the Venerable. He 
writes that he had received with joy the letter which her 
affection had dictated, ^ and now took the first opportunity 
to express his recognition of her affection and his reverence 
for herself. He refers to her keenly prosecuted studies 
(so rare for women) before taking the veil, and then to the 
glorious example of her sage and holy life in the nun's 
sacred calling — her victory over the proud Prince of this 
World. His admiration for her was deep ; his expression 
of it was extreme. A learned, wise, and holy woman could 
not be praised more ardently than Heloise is praised by this 
good man. He had spoken of the advantages his monastery 
would have derived from her presence, and then continued : 

" But although God's providence denied us this, it was granted 
us to enjoy the presence of him — who was yours — Master Peter 
Abaelard, a man always to be spoken of with honour as a true 
servant of Christ and a philosopher. The divine dispensation 
placed him in Cluny for his last years, and through him enriched 
our monastery with treasure richer than gold. No brief writing 
could do justice to his holy, humble, and devoted life among us. 
I have not seen his equal in humility of garb and manner. When 
in the crowd of our brethren I forced him to take a first place, 
in meanness of clothing he appeared as the last of all. Often I 
marvelled, as the monks walked past me, to see a man so great 
and famous thus despise and abase himself. He was abstemious 
in food and drink, refusing and condemning everything beyond 
the bare necessities. He was assiduous in study, frequent in _ 
prayer, always silent unless compelled to answer the question of I 
some brother or expound sacred themes before us. He partook '■ 
of the sacrament as often as possible. Truly his mind, his tongue, 
his act, taught and exemplified religion, philosophy, and learning. 
So he dwelt with us, a man simple and righteous, fearing God, 
turning from evil, consecrating to God the latter days of his hfe. 
At last, because of his bodily infirmities, I sent him to a quiet 
and salubrious retreat on the banks of the Saone. There he bent 
over his books, as long as his strength lasted, always praying, 

^ This letter of Heloise is not extant. 


reading, writing, or dictating. In these sacred exercises, not 
sleeping but watching, he was found by the heavenly Visitor ; 
who summoned him to the eternal wedding-feast not as a foohsh 
but as a wise virgin, bearing his lamp filled with oil — the con- 
sciousness of a holy hfe. When he came to pay humanity's last 
debt, his illness was brief. With holy devotion he made con- 
fession of the Catholic Faith, then of his sins. The brothers 
who were with him can testify how devoutly he received the 
viaticum of that last journey, and with what fervent faith he 
commended his body and soul to his Redeemer. Thus this 
master, Peter, completed his days. He who was known through- 
out the world by the fame of his teaching, entered the school of 
Him who said, ' Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart ' ; 
and continuing meek and lowly he passed to Him, "as we may 

" Venerable and dearest sister in the Lord, the man who was 
once joined to thee in the flesh, and then by the stronger chain 
of divine love, him in thy stead, or as another thee, the Lord 
holds in His bosom ; and at the day of His coming,' His grace 
will restore him to thee." 

The abbot afterwards visited the Paraclete, and on 
returning to Cluny received this letter from the abbess : 

" God's mercy visiting us, we have been \dsited by the favour 
of your graciousness. We are glad, kindest father, and we glory 
that your greatness condescended to our insignificance. A visit 
from you is an honour even to the great. The others may know 
the great benefit they received from the presence of your high- 
ness. I cannot tell in words, or even comprehend in thought, 
how beneficial and how sweet your coming was to me. You' 
our abbot and our lord, celebrated mass with us the sixteenth of 
the Calends of last December ; you commended us to the Holy 
Spirit ; you nourished us with the Divine Word ;— you gave us 
the body of the master, and confirmed that gift from Cluny 
To me also, unworthy to be your servant, though by word and 
letter you have called me sister, you gave as a pledge of sincere 
love the privilege of a Tricenarium, to be performed by the 
brethren of Cluny, after my death, for the benefit of my soul 
;?^i ^^^ promised to confirm this under your seal. May you 
fulfil this my lord. Might it please you also to send to me that 
otner sealed roll, containing the absolution of the master that I 
may hang it on his tomb. Remember also, for the love of God 
t^T^?^ your— Astralabius, to obtain for him a prebend from 
tne bishop of Pans or another. Farewell. May God preserve 
you, and grant to us sometime your presence." 


The good abbot replied with a kind and affectionate 
letter, confirming his gift of the Tricenarium, promising to 
do all he could for Astralabius, and sending with his letter 
the record of Abaelard's absolution, as follows : 

" I, Peter, Abbot of Cluny, who received Peter Abaelard to 
be a monk in Cluny, and granted his body, secretly transported, 
to the Abbess Heloise and the nuns of the Paraclete, absolve him, 
in the performance of my office (j[)ro officio) by the authority of 
the omnipotent God and all the saints, from all his sins." 

Abaelard died in the year 1142, aged sixty-three. 
Twenty-one years afterward Heloise died at the same age, 
and was buried in the same tomb with him at the 
Paraclete : 

" Hoc tumulo abbatissa jacet prudens Heloissa." 



A CRITICISM of the world of feudalism, chivalry, and love 
may be had from the impressions and temperamental re- 
actions of a certain thinking atom revolving in the same. 
The atom referred to was Walther von der Vogelweide, a 
German, a knight, a Minnesinger, and a national poet whose 
thoughts were moved by the instincts of his caste and race. 

In language, temperament, and character, the Germans 
east of the Rhine were Germans still in the thirteenth 
century. They had accepted, and even vitally appropriated, 
Latin Christianity ; those of them who were educated had 
received a Latin education. Yet their natures, though 
somewhat tempered, showed largely and distinctly German. 
Moreover, through the centuries, they had acquired — or 
rather they had never lost — a national antipathy toward 
those Roman papal well-springs of authority, which seemed 
to suck back German gold and lands in return for spiritual 
assurance and political betrayal. 

A different and already mediaevalized element had also 
become part of German culture, to wit, the matter of the 
French Arthurian romances and the lyric fashions of 
Provence, which, working together, had captivated modish 
German circles from the Rhine to the Danube. Neverthe- 
less the German character maintained itself in the Minne- 
lieder which followed Provengal poetry, and in the hofisch 
(courtly) epics which were palpable translations from the 
French.^ The distinguished group of German poets whose 

1 The Tristan of Gottfried von Strassburg and the Parzival of Wolfram 
von Eschenbach have been given. One may also refer to works of older 



lives fall around the year 1200, were as German as their 
language, although they borrowed from abroad the form 
and matter of their compositions. 

There could be no better Germans than the two most 
thoughtful of this group, Wolfram von Eschenbach and 
Walther von der Vogelweide. Most Germanically the 
former wrestled with that ancient theme, " from suffering, 
wisdom," which he pressed into the tale of Parzival. His 
great poem, achieved with toil and sweat, was mighty in 
its climaxes, and fit to strengthen the hearts of those men 
who through sorrow and loneliness and despair's temptations 
were growing " slowly wise." 

The virtues which Wolfram praised and embodied in his 
hero were those praised in the verses, and even, one may 
think, strugglingly exemplified in the conduct, of Walther von 
der Vogelweide,^ most famous of Minnesingers, and a power 
in the German lands through his Spriiche, or verses personal 
and political. Less is known of his life than of his whole 
and manly views, his poetic fancies, his musings, his hopes, 
and great depressions. Many places have claimed the honour 
of his birth, which took place somewhat before 1170. He 
was poor, and through his youth and manhood moved about 
from castle to castle, and from court to court, seeking to win 
some recompense for his excellent verses and good company. 
Thus he learned much of men, " climbing another's stairs," 
with his fellows, at the Landgraf Hermann's Wartburg, or at 
the Austrian ducal Court. 

Walther's Spriiche render his moods most surely, and 
reflect his outlook on the world. His charming Minnelieder 
bear more conventional evidence. The courtly German love- 
songs passing by this name were affected by the conceits 
and conventions of the Provengal poetry upon which they 

contemporaries, e.g. to the Aeneid of Heinrich von Veldeke, translated (1184) 
from a French rendering of VirgU ; and the two courtly narrative poems, the 
Erec and Ivain (Knight of the Lion) taken from Chretien of Troies by 
Hartmann von Aue, who flourished as the twelfth century was passing into the 

1 On Walther von der Vogelweide, see Wilmannf Leben und DicMung 
Walthers, etc. (Bonn, 1882) ; Schonbach, Walther von der Vogelweide (2nd ed., 
Berlin, 1895). The citations from his poems in this chapter follow the Pfeiffer- 
Bartsch edition. 


were modelled. A strong nature might use such with power, 
or break with their influence. Walther made his own the 
high convention of trouvere and troubadour, that love uplifts 
the lover's being. Besides this, and besides the lighter 
forms and phrases current in such poetry, his Lieder carry 
natural feeling, joy, and moral levity, according to the theme; 
they also may express Walther's convictions. 

To take examples : Walther's Tagelied ^ imitates the 
proven9al alha (dawn), in which knight and truant lady 
bewail the coming of the light and the parting which it 
brings. Far more joyous, and as immoral as one pleases, 
is Unter der Linde, most famous of his songs. Mar- 
vellously it gives the mood of love's joy remembered — and 
anticipated too. The immorality is complete (if we will be 
serious), and is rendered most alluring by the utter gladness 
of the girl's song — no repentance, no regret ; only joy and 
roguish laughter. 

Walther was young, he was a knight and a Minnesinger ; 
he had doubtless loved, in this way. His love-songs have 
plenty to say of the red mouth, good for kissing — I care not 
who knows it either. But he also realizes, and greatly sings, 
the height and breadth and worth of love the true and 
stable, the blessing and completion of two lives, which comes 
to a false heart never.^ He seems to feel it necessary to 
defend love for itself, perhaps because marriage was taken 
more seriously in this imitative German literature than in 
the French and Provencal originals : " Who says that love is 
sin, let him consider well. Many an honour dwells with her, 
and troth and happiness. If one does ill to the other, love 
is grieved. I do not mean false love ; that were better 
named un-love. No friend of that, am I." But his 
thoughts turn quickly to love as a lasting union : " He 
happy man, she happy woman, whose hearts are to each 
other true ; both lives increased in price and worth ; blessed 
their years and all their days." ^ 

Giving play to his caustic temper, Walther puts scorn 
upon the light of love : " Fool he who cannot understand 
what joy and good, love brings. But the Hght man is ever 

^ No. 3 in the Pfeiffer-Bartsch edition. 

2 184. 3 33. 


pleased with light things, as is fit ! " ^ This Minnesinger 
applied most earnest standards to life ; lofty his praise of the 
qualities of womanhood, which are better than beauty or 
riches : " woman " is a higher word than " lady " ^ — it took 
a German to say this. " He who carries hidden sorrow in 
his heart, let him think upon a good woman — he is freed." ^ 
With a burst of patriotism, in one of his greatest poems 
Walther praises German women as the best in all the world.* 
But even in the Minnelieder, Walther has his despond- 
encies. One of the most definite, and possibly conventional, 
was regret for love's labour lost, and the days of youth 
spent in service of an ungracious fair. The poet wonders how 
it is that he who has helped other men is tongue-tied before 
his lady. Again, his reflections broaden from thoughts of 
unresponsive fair ones to a conviction of life's thanklessness. 
" I have well served the World {Frau Welt, Society), and 
gladly would serve her more, but for her evil thanks and her 
way of preferring fools to me. . . . Come, World, give me 
better greeting — the loss is not all mine." He knows his 
good unbending temper which will not endure to hear ill 
spoken of the upright. But he thinks, what is the use ? 
why speak so sweetly, why sing, when virtue and beauty 
are so lightly held, and every one does evil, fearing nought ? 
The verse which carries these reflections is tossing in the 
squally haven of Society ; soon the poet will encounter the 
wild sea without. Still from the windy harbour comes one 
grand lament over art's decline : " The worst songs please, 
frogs' voices ! Oh, I laugh from anger ! Lady World, no 
score of mine is on your devil's slate. Many a life of man 
and woman have I made glad — might I so have gladdened 
mine ! Here, I make my Will, and bequeath my goods — 
to the envious my ill-luck, my sorrows to the liars, my 
follies to false lovers, and to the ladies my heart's pain." ^ 
He makes a solemn offering of his poems : " Good women, 
worthy men, a loving greeting is my due. Forty years have 
I sung fittingly of love ; and now, take my songs which 
gladden, as my gift to you. Your favour be my return. 
And with my staff I will fare on, still wooing worth with 

^ 22. 2 14, 16, 69. 3 18. * 39. 

^ See Lieder, 46, 51, 56, 59, 61, 62, 71, 72, 75, 76, 77. 


undisheartened work, as from my childhood. So shall I be, 
in lowly lot, one of the Noble — for me enough." 

To relish Walther's love -songs, one need not know 
whether she was dark or fair, kept forest-tryst or listened by 
some castle's hearth, or in what German land that castle 
stood. Likewise in his Spriiche, which have other bearing, 
the roll of his protesting voice carries the universal human. 
To comprehend them it were well to know that life was then 
as now niggardly in rewarding virtue ; beyond this, one 
needs to have the type-idea of the Empire and the Papacy, 
those two powers which were set, somewhat antagonistically, 
on the decree of God ; both claiming the world's headship ; 
the one, Roman in tradition, but in strength and temper 
German, and of this world decidedly. The other, Roman 
in the genius of its organization, and Christian in its sub- 
ordination of the life below to the life to come, if not in the 
methods of establishing this consummation ; Christian too, 
but more especially mediaeval, in its formal disdain for 
whatever belonged to earth. In Germany these two partial 
opposites were further antagonized, since the native resources 
recoiled from the foreign drain upon them, and the struggling 
patriotism of a broken land resented the pressure of a state 
within and above the state of duke and king and emperor. 

In Walther's time Innocent III. swayed the nations from 
Peter's throne. Just before Innocent's accession, Germany's 
able emperor, Henry VL, died suddenly in Sicily (Septem- 
ber 1197), leaving an heir not four years old. The queen- 
mother, dying the next year, bequeathed this child, Frederick, 
to the paternal care of Innocent, his feudal as well as ghostly 
lord, since the queen, for herself and child, had accepted the 
Pope as the feudal suzerain of their kingdom of Sicily. In 
Germany (using that name loosely and broadly) Philip 
Hohenstauffen, Henry's brother and Duke of Suabia, claimed 
the throne. His unequal opponent was Otto of Brunswick, 
of the ever-rebellious house of Henry the Lion. The Pope 
opposed the Hohenstauffen ; but was obliged to acknowledge 
him when the course of the ten years of wasting civil war in 
Germany decided in his favour — whereupon, alack ! Philip 
was murdered (1207). Quickly the Pope turned back to 
Otto ; but the latter, after he had been crowned king and 


emperor, became intolerable to Innocent through the com- 
pulsion of his position as the head of an empire inherently 
hostile to the papacy. To thwart him Innocent set up his own 
ward, Frederick. Soon this precocious youth began to make 
head against pope-forsaken Otto ; and then the excommuni- 
cated emperor was overthrown in 12 14 by Philip Augustus 
of France, who had intervened in Frederick's favour. So 
Otto passed away, and, some time after, Frederick was 
crowned German king at Aix-la-Chapelle.^ In the mean- 
while Innocent died (1216), and amity followed between 
Frederick and the gentle Honorius III., who crowned 
Frederick emperor at Rome in 1220. This peace ended 
quickly when the sterner Gregory IX. ascended the papal 
throne on the death of Honorius in 1227. 

Walther's life extended through these events. Though 
apparently changing sides under the stress of his necessities, 
he was patriotically German to the end. First he clave to 
the Hohenstauffen, Philip, as the true upholder of German 
interests against Otto and the Pope. On Philip's death, he 
turned to Otto ; but with all the world left him at last for 
Frederick. It is known that Walther, an easily angered man, 
felt himself ill-used by Otto and justified in turning to the 
open-handed Frederick, who finally gave him a small fief. 
To the last, Walther upheld him as Germany's sovereign. 
Probably the poet died in the year 1228, just as Gregory 
was succeeding Honorius, and the death-struggle of the 
Empire with the Papacy was opening. 

With no light heart, as well may be imagined, had 
Walther looked about him on the death of the emperor Henry 
in 1197. " I sat upon a rock, crossed knee on knee, and 
with elbow so supported, chin on hand I leaned. Anxiously 
I pondered. I could see no way to win gain without loss. 
Honour and riches do not go hand in hand, both of less 
value than God's favour. Would I have them all ? Alas ! 
riches and worldly honour and God's favour come not within 
the closure of one heart's wishes. The ways are barred ; 
perfidy lurks in secret, and might walks the highroads. 
Peace and law are wounded." ^ 

1 A lucid account of this struggle is given by Luchaire, Innocent III., vol. iii. 
(" La Papaute et rEmpire "), Paris, 1906. 2 gj^ 


The personal dilemma of the poet with his fortune to 
make, but desirous of doing right, mirrors the desperate 
situation of the State : " Woe is thee, German tongue ; ill 
stand thy order and thy honour ! — I hear the lies of Rome 
betraying two kings ! " And in verses of wrath Walther 
inveighs against the Pope The sweeping nature of his 
denunciation raises the question whether he merely attacked 
the supposed treachery of the reigning pope, or was opposed 
to the papacy as an institution hostile to the German nation. 

The answer is not clear. Mediaeval denunciations of 
the Church range from indictments of particular abuses, on 
through more general invectives, to the clear protests of 
heretics impugning the ecclesiastical system. It is not 
always easy to ascertain the speaker's meaning. Usually 
the abuse and not the system is attacked. Hostility to the 
latter, however sweeping the language of satirist or preacher, 
is not lightly to be inferred. The invectives of St. Bernard 
and Damiani are very broad ; but where had the Church 
more devoted sons ? Even the satirists composing in Old 
French rarely intended an assault upon her spiritual authority. 
It would seem as if, at least in the Romance countries, one 
must look for such hostility to heretical circles, the Waldenses 
for example. And from the orthodox mediaeval standpoint, 
this was their most accursed heresy. 

It would have been hard for any German to use broader 
language than some of the French satirists and Latin 
castigators. If there was a difference, it must be sought 
in the specific matter of the German disapproval viewed in 
connection with the political situation. Was a position ever 
taken incompatible with the Church's absolute spiritual 
authority ? or one intrinsically irreconcilable with the secular 
power of the papacy ? At any time, in any country, papal 
claims might become irreconcilable with the royal pre- 
rogative — as William the Conqueror had held those of 
Gregory VIL in England, and as, two centuries afterwards, 
Philip the Fair was to hold those of Boniface VIII, in 
France. But in neither case was there such sheer and 
fundamental antagonism as men felt to exist between the 
Empire and the Papacy. Perhaps it was possible in the 
early thirteenth century for a German whose whole heart 


was on the German side to dispute even the sacerdotal 
principle of papal authority. It is hard to judge otherwise 
of Freidank, the very German composer or collector of 
trenchant sayings in the early thirteenth century. Many of 
these sneer at Rome and the Pope, and some of them strike 
the gist of the matter : " Sunde nieman mac vergeben wan 
Got alein " ("God alone can forgive sins"). This is the direct 
statement ; he gives its scornful converse : " Could the Pope 
absolve me from my oaths and duties, I'd let other sureties 
go and fasten to him alone." ^ Such words mean denial of 
the Church's authority to forgive, and the Pope's to grant 
absolution from oaths of allegiance. Freidank is very near 
rejecting the principles of the ecclesiastical system. 

Walther, Freidank's contemporary, is more picturesque : 
" King Constantine, he gave so much — as I will tell you — 
to the Chair of Rome : spear, cross, and crown. At once the 
angels cried : ' Alas ! Alas ! Alas ! Christendom before 
stood crowned with righteousness. Now is poison fallen on 
her, and her honey turned to gall — sad for the world hence- 
forth ! ' To-day the princes all live in honour ; only their 
highest languishes — so works the priest's election. Be that 
denounced to thee, sweet God ! The priests would upset 
laymen's rights : true is the angels' prophecy." ^ 

On Constantine's apocryphal gift, symbolized by the 
emblems of Christ's passion, rested the secular authority of 
the popes, which Walther laments with the angels. " The 
Chair of Rome was first set up by Sorcerer Gerbert ! [Queer 
history this, but we see what he means.] He destroyed his 
own soul only ; but this one would bring down Christendom 
with him to perdition. When will all tongues call Heaven 
to arms, and ask God how long He will sleep ? They bring 
to nought His work, distort His Word. His steward steals 
His treasure ; His judge robs here and murders there ; His 
shepherd has become a wolf among His sheep." ^ The 
clergy point their fingers heavenward while they travel fast 
to hell.* How laughs the Pope at us, when at home with 
his Italians, at the way he empties our German pockets into 

^ From " Freidank in Auswahl," in Hildebrand's Didaktik aus der Zeit der 
Kreuzzuge, p. 336 (Deutsche Nat. Lit.). 

2 85, Cf. 164. 2 no. * 113, Cf. Ill, 112. 


his " poor boxes." ^ Walther's hatred of the foreign Pope is 
roused at every point. And at last, in a Spruch full of 
implied meaning, he declares that Christ's word as to the 
tribute money meant that the emperor should receive his 
royal due.^ 

These utterances, considered in the light of the political 
and racial situation, seem to deny, at least implicitly, the 
secular power of the papacy. Yet in matters of religion 
Walther apparently was entirely orthodox, and a pious 
Christian, He has left a sweet prayer to Christ, with ample 
recognition of the angels and the saints, and a beautiful 
verse of penitent contrition, in which he confesses his sins to 
God very directly — how that he does the wrong, and leaves 
the right, and fails in love of neighbour. " Father, Son, may 
thy Spirit lighten mine ; how may I love him who does me 
ill ? Ever dear to me is he who treats me well ! " ^ Walther's 
questing spirit also pondered over God's greatness and 
incomprehensibility.* His open mind is shown by the 
famous line : " Him (God) Christians, Jews, and heathen 
serve," ^ a breadth of view shared by his friend Wolfram von 
Eschenbach, who speaks of the chaste virtue of a heathen 
lady as equal to baptism.^ 

The personal lot of this proud heart was not an easy 
one ; homelessness broke him down, and the bitterness of 
eating others' bread. Too well had he learned of the world 
and all its changing ways, and how poor becomes the soul 
that follows them. Mortality is a trite sorrow ; there are 
worse : " We all complain that the old die and pass away ; 
rather let us lament taints of another hue, that troth and 
seemliness and honour are dead." ' At the last Walther's 
1 115, 116. 

* 133. My statement of the opposition to the papacy might be much more 
analytical, and contain further apt distinctions. But this would remove it too far 
from the anti-papal feeling of the common man ; and the period, moreover, is 
not yet that of Occam and Marsilius of Padua — as to whom see Gierke, Political 
Theories of the Middle Age, trans, by Maitland (Cambridge, 1900). 

" 88, 137. 

* 158. Walther shared the crusading spirit. The inference that he was him- 
self a Crusader is unsafe ; but he wrote stirring crusading poems, one opening 
with a line that in sudden power may be compared with Milton's 

" Avenge, O Lord, Thy slaughtered saints." 
" Rich, herre, dich und dine muoter, megede kint." 

167. See also 78, 79. 
^ 87. « Parzival, i. 824. ' 186. 


grey memory of life and his vainly yearning hope took form 
in a great elegy. After long years he seemed, with heavy 
steps, and leaning on his wanderer's staff, to be returning to 
a home which was changed forever : " Alas ! whither are they 
vanished, my many years ! Did I dream my life, or is it 
real ? what I once deemed it, was it that ? And now I 
wake, and all the things and people once familiar, strange ! 
My playmates, dull and old ! And the fields changed ; only 
that the streams still flow as then they flowed, my heart 
would break with thinking on the glad days, vanished in the 
sea. And the young people ! slow and mirthless ! and the 
knights go clad as peasants ! Ah ! Rome ! thy ban ! Our 
groans have stilled the song of birds. Fool I, to speak and 
so despair, — and the earth looks fair ! Up knights again : 
your swords, your armour ! would to God I might fare with 
your victor band, and gain my pay too — not in lands of 
earth ! Oh ! might I win the eternal crown from that sweet 
voyage beyond the sea, then would I sing O joy ! and never 
more, alas — never more, alas." ^ 





Words, pictures, and other vehicles of expression are symbols 
of whatever they are intended to designate. A certain un- 
avoidable symbolism also inheres in human mental processes ; 
for the mind in knowing " turns itself to images," as Aquinas 
says following Aristotle ; and every statement or formula- 
tion is a casting together of data in some presentable and 
representative form. An example is the Apostles' Creed, 
called also by this very name of Symbol, being a casting 
together, an elementary formula, of the essentials of the 
Christian Faith. In the same sense the " law of gravitation " 
or a moral precept is a deduction, induction, or gathering 
together into a representative symbol, of otherwise un- 
assembled and uncorrelated experience. In the present and 
following chapters, however, the term symbol will be used 
in its common acceptation to indicate a thing, an act, or a 
word invested with an adventitious representative significance. 
All statements or expressions (through language or by 
means of pictures) which are intended to carry, besides their 
palpable meaning, another which is veiled and more spiritual, 
are symbolical or figurative, and more specifically are called 

1 While an allegory is a statement having another consciously intended 
meaning, metaphor is the carrying over or deflection of a meaning from its 
primary application. According to good usage, which has kept these terms 
distinct, allegory implies a definite and usually a sustained intention, and suggests 
the spiritual ; while metaphor suggests figures of speech and linguistic changes 
often unconscious. Language develops through the metaphorical (not allegorical) 
extension or modification of the meanings of words. The original meaning 
sometimes is obscured (e.g. in profane or depend), and sometimes continues to 



These devices of the mind have a history as old as 
humanity. From inscrutable beginnings, in time they be- 
come recognized as makeshifts ; yet they remain prone to 
enter new stages of confusion. The mind seeking to express 
the transcendental, avails itself of symbols. All religions 
have teemed with them, in their primitive phases scarcely 
distinguishing between symbol and fact ; then a difference 
becomes evident to clearer-minded men, while perhaps at the 
same time other men are elaborately maintaining that the 
symbol magically is, or brings to pass, that which it represents. 
Such obscuring mysticism existed not merely in confused 
Egypt and Brahminical India, but everywhere — in antique 
Greece and Rome, and then afterwards through the times of 
the Christian Church Fathers and the entire Middle Ages. 
Fact and symbol are seen constantly closing together and 
becoming each other like the serpent-souls in the twenty-fifth 
canto of Dante's Inferno. 

Allegory properly speaking, which involves a conscious 
and sustained effort to invest concrete or material statements 
with more general or spiritual meaning, played an interesting 
role in epochs antecedent to the patristic and mediaeval 
periods. Even before Plato's time the personal myths of 
the gods shocked the Greek ethical intellect, which thereupon 
proceeded to convert them into allegories. Greek allegorical 
interpretation of ancient myth was apologetic to both the 
critical mind and the moral sense. 

With Philo, the Hellenizing Jew of Alexandria, whose 
philosophy revolted from the literal text of Genesis, the 
motive for allegorical interpretation was similar. But the 
document before him was most unlike the Iliad and Odyssey. 
Genesis contained no palpably immoral stories of Jehovah 
to be explained away. Its account of divine creation and 
human beginnings merely needed to be invested with further 
ethical meaning. So Philo made cardinal virtues of the four 
rivers of Eden, and through like allegorical conceits trans- 
formed the Book of Genesis into a system of Hellenistic 

exist with the new one. In a vast number of languages, such words as straight, 
oblique, crooked, seem always to have had both a direct and a metaphorical meaning. 
Moral and intellectual conceptions necessarily are expressed in phrases primarily 
applicable to physical phenomena. 


ethics. Not cosmogonic myths, but moral meanings, he had 
discovered in his document. 

Advancing along the path which Philo found. Christian 
allegorical interpretation undertook to substantiate the 
validity of the Gospel. To this end it fixed special 
symbolical meanings upon the Old Testament narratives, so 
as to make them into prefigurative testimonies to the truth 
of Christian teachings.^ Allegory was also called on to 
justify, as against educated pagans, certain acts of that 
heroic but peccant " type " of Christ, David, the son of 
Jesse. Such special apologetic needs hardly affected the 
allegorical interpretation of the Gospel itself, which began at 
an early day, and from the first was spiritual and anagogic, 
constantly straining on to educe further salutary meaning 
from the text. 

The Greek and Latin Church Fathers created the mass 
of doctrine, including Scriptural interpretation,^ upon which 
mediaeval theologians were to expend their systematizing 
and reconstructive labours. Through the Middle Ages, the 
course of allegory and symbolism strikingly illustrates the 
mediaeval way of using the patristic heritage — first painfully 
learning it, then making it their own, and at last creating 
by means of that which they had organically appropriated. 
Allegory and symbolism were to impress the Middle Ages 
as perhaps no other element of their inheritance. The 
mediaeval man thought and felt in symbols, and the sequence 
of his thought moved as frequently from symbol to symbol 
as from fact to fact. 

The allegorical faculty with the Fathers was dogmatic 
and theological ; ingenious in devising useful interpretations, 
but oblivious to all reasonable propriety in the meaning 
which it twisted into the text : controversial necessities 
readily overrode the rational and moral requirements of the 
" historical " or " literal " meaning. For the deeply reahzed 
allegorical significance was a law unto itself. These 
characteristics of patristic allegory passed over to the Middle 
Ages, which in the course of time were to impress human 
qualities upon the patristic material. 

^ Cf. Taylor, Classical Heritage, p. 97 sqq. 
" Ante, Chapters IV., V. 


The Bathsheba and Uriah episode in the life of David 
was of course taken allegorically, and affords a curious 
example of a patristic interpretation originating in the 
exigencies of controversy, and then becoming authoritative 
for later periods when the echoes of the old controversy had 
long been silent. Augustine was called upon to answer 
the book of the clever Manichaean, Faustus, the stress 
of whose attacks was directed against the Old Testament. 
Faustus declared that he did not blaspheme " the law and 
the prophets," but rejected merely the special Hebrew 
customs and the vile calumnies of the Old Testament 
writers, imputing shameful acts to prophets and patriarchs. 
In his list of shocking narratives to be rejected, was the story 
" that David after having had such a number of wives, 
defiled the little woman of Uriah his soldier, and caused him 
to be slain in battle." ^ 

Augustine responds with a general exclamation at the 
Manichaean's failure to understand the sacramental symbols 
{sacramenta) of the Law and the deeds of the prophets. He 
then speaks of certain Old Testament statements regarding 
God and His demands, and proceeds to consider the nature 
of sin and the questionable deeds of the prophets. Some of 
the reprehended deeds he justifies, as, for instance, Abraham's 
intercourse with Hagar and his deceit in telling Abimelech 
that Sara was his sister when she was his wife. He 
also declares that Sara typifies the Church, which is the 
secret spouse of Christ. Proceeding further, he does not 
justify, but palliates, the conduct of Lot and his daughters, 
and then introduces its typological significance. At length 
he comes to David. First he gives a noble estimate of 
David's character, his righteousness, his liability to sin, and 
his quick penitence. ^ Afterwards he considers, briefly as he 
says, what David's sin with Bathsheba signifies prophetically.^ 
The passage may be given to show what a mixture of 
banality and disregard of moral propriety in drawing 
analogies might emanate from the best mind among the 

1 Contra Faustum, xxii. 1-5. ^ Contra Faustum, xxii. 66-68. 

^ Augustine's method in this twenty-second Book is first to consider the actual 
sinfulness or the justification of these deeds, and afterwards to take up in suc- 
cession their typological significance. So, for example, he discusses the blame- 
fulness of Judah's conduct with Tamar in par. 61-64 and its typology in 83-86. 


Latin Fathers, and be repeated by later transitional and 
mediaeval commentators. 

" The names themselves when interpreted indicate what this 
deed prefigured. David is interpreted ' Strong of hand ' or 
' Desirable.' And what is stronger than that Lion of the 
tribe of Judah that overcame the world ? and what is more 
desirable than him of whom the prophet says : ' The desired 
of all nations shall come ' (Hag. ii. 7) ? Bathsheba means ' well 
of satiety,' or ' seventh well.' Whichever of these interpreta- 
tions we adopt will suit. For in Canticles the Bride who is 
the Church is called a well of Uving water (Cant. iv. 15) ; and 
to this well the name of the seventh number is joined in the 
sense of Holy Spirit ; and this because of Pentecost (the fiftieth), 
the day on which the Holy Spirit came. For that same festival 
is of the weeks {de septinianis constare) as the Book of Tobit 
testifies. Then to forty-nine, which is seven times seven, one is 
added, whereby unity is commended. By this spiritual, that is 
' Seven-natured ' {septenario) gift, the Church is made a weU of 
satiety ; because there is made in her a well of hving water 
springing up unto everlasting life, which whoso has shall never 
thirst (John iv. 14). Uriah, indeed, who had been her husband, 
what but devil does his name signify ? In whose vilest wedlock 
all those were bound whom the. grace of God sets free, that the 
Church without spot or wrinkle may be married to her own 
Saviour. For Uriah is interpreted, ' My light of God ' ; and 
Hittite means ' cut off,' or he who does not stand in truth, but 
by the guilt of pride is cut off from the supernal light which he 
had from God ; or it means, he who in falling away from his true 
strength which was lost, nevertheless fashioneth himself into an 
angel of Ught (2 Cor. xi. 14), daring to say : ' My hght is of God.' 
Therefore this David gravely and wickedly sinned ; and God 
rebuked his crime through the prophet with a threat ; and he 
himself washed it away by repenting. Yet likewise He, the 
desired of all nations, was enamoured of the Church bathing 
upon the roof, that is cleansing herself from the filth of the world, 
and in spiritual contemplation surmounting and trampling on her 
house of clay ; and knowledge of her having been had at their first 
meeting. He afterwards killed the devil, apart from her, and joined 
her to himself in perpetual marriage. Therefore we hate the sin 
but will not quench the prophecy. Let us love that {ilium) 
David, who is so greatly to be loved, who through mercy freed us 
from the devil ; and let us also love that [istum] David who by the 
humihty of penitence healed in himself so deep a wound of sin."^ 

^ Contra Faustum, xxii. 87. St. Ambrose, in his Apologia Prophetae David 
cap. iii. (Migne 14, col. 857), written some years before Augustine's treatise 


Augustine's interpretation of the story of David and 
Bathsheba was embodied verbatim in a work upon the Old 
Testament by Isidore of Seville. ^ The voluminous commen- 
tator Rabanus Maurus took the same, also verbatim, either 
from Isidore or Augustine. ^ His pupil, Walafrid Strabo, 
in his famous Glossa ordinaria, cited, probably from 
Rabanus, the first part of the passage as far as the reference 
to the well of living water from John's Gospel. He abridged 
the matter somewhat, thus showing the smoothing compiler's 
art which was to bring his Glossa ordinaria into such 
general use. Walafrid omitted the lines declaring that Uriah 
signified the devil. He did cite, however, again probably 
from Rabanus, part of a long passage, taken by Rabanus 
from Gregory the Great, where Bathsheba is declared to be 
the letter of the Law, united to a carnal people, which David 
(Christ) joins to himself in a spiritual sense. Uriah is that 
carnal people, to wit, the Jews.^ 

Thus far as to the comments on the narrative from the 
eleventh chapter of the Second Book of Samuel, otherwise 
called the Second Book of Kings. When Rabanus came to 
explain the sixth verse of the first chapter of Matthew — 
" And David begat Solomon from her who was the wife of 
Uriah " — ^he said : " Uriah indeed, that is interpreted ' My 
light of God,' signifies the devil, who fashions himself into an 
angel of light, daring to say to God : ' My light of God,' and 
' I will be like unto the Most High ' (Isaiah xiv.)." * Here 
pupil Walafrid follows his master, but adds : " Whose be- 
wedded Church Christ became enamoured of from the terrace 
of His paternal majesty and joined her, made beautiful to 
himself in matrimony." ^ 

With Rabanus and Walafrid, as with Isidore and the 
Venerable Bede who were the links between these Carolingians 

against Faustus, finds Bathsheba to signify the " congregatio nationum quae non 
erat Christo legitimo quodam fidei copulata connubio." 

^ Quaestiones in Vet. Testam. in Regum II. (Migne 83, col. 411). Isidore 
died A.D. 636 (ante, Chapter V.). 

2 Comment, in Libros IV. Regum, in lib. ii. cap. xi. ; Migne, Pat. Lat. 109, 
col. 98 (written in 834). On Rabanus and Walafrid see ante, Chapter X. 

^ Glossa ordinaria. Lib. Regum, ii. cap. xi. (Migne 113, col. 571, 572). 

* Comment, in Matthaeum (Migne 107, col. 734). 

^ Migne 114, col. 67. 


and the Fathers, the interest in Scripture relates to its 
allegorical significance. Unmindful of the obvious and 
literal meaning of the text, they were unabashed by the 
incongruity of their allegorical interpretations.^ Rabanus, 
for instance, had unbounded enthusiasm for Exodus, because 
of its rich symbolism : 

" Among the Scriptures embraced in the Pentateuch of the 
Law, the Book of Exodus excels in merit ; in it almost all the 
sacraments by which the present Church is founded, nourished, 
and ruled, are figuratively set forth. For there, through the 
corporeal exit of the children of Israel from the terrestrial Egypt, 
our exit from the spiritual Egypt is made clear. There again, 
through the crossing of the Red Sea and the submersion of 
Pharaoh and the Egyptians, the mystery of Baptism and the 
destruction of spiritual enemies are figured. There the immola- 
tion of the typifying lamb and the celebration of the Passover 
suggest the passion of the true Lamb and our redemption. There 
manna from heaven and drink from a rock are given in order to 
teach us to desire the heavenly bread and the drink di life. There 
precepts and judgments are delivered to the people of God upon 
a mountain in order that we may learn to be subject to supernal 
discipline. There the construction of the tabernacle and its 
vessels is ordered to take place with worship and sacrifices, that 
therein the adornment of the marvellous Church and the rites of 
spiritual sacrifices may be indicated. There the perfumes of 
incense and aftointment are prepared, in order that the sancti- 
fication of the Holy Spirit and the mystery of sacred prayers 
may be commended to us." ^ 

The same commentator compiled a dictionary of allegories 

1 It was the way of Bede in his commentaries to speak briefly of the literal 
or historic meaning of the text, and then give the usual symbolical interpretations, 
paying special attention to the significance of the Old Testament narratives as 
types of the career of Christ (see e.g. the beginning of the Commentary on 
Exodus, Migne 92, col. 285 sqq., and Prologue to the allegorical Commentary 
on Samuel, Migne 92, col. 501, 502). For example, in the opening of the First 
Book of Samuel, Elkanah is a type of Christ, and his two wives Peninnah and 
Hannah represent the Synagogue and the Church. When Samuel is born to 
Hannah he also is a type of Christ ; and Bede says it need not astonish one that 
Hannah's spouse and Hannah's son should both be types of Christ, since the 
Mediator between God and man is at once the spouse and son of Holy Church : 
He is her spouse as He aids her with His confidence and hope and love, and her 
son when by grace He enters the hearts of those who beUeve and hope and love. 
In Samuelam, cap. iii. (Migne 91, col. 508.) Bede's monastic mind balked at 
the literal statement that Elkanah had two wives (see the Prologue, Migne 91, 
col. 499). 

^ Com. in Exodum, Praefatio (Migne 108, col. 9). 


entitled Allegoriae in universam sacrum scripturam,^ saying 
in his lumbering Preface : 

" Whoever desires to arrive at an understanding of Holy 
Scripture should consider when he should take the narrative 
historically, when allegorically, when anagogically, and when 
tropologically. For these four ways of understanding, to wit, 
history, allegory, tropology, anagogy, we call the four daughters 
of wisdom, who cannot fully be searched out without a prior 
knowledge of these. Through them Mother Wisdom feeds her 
adopted children, giving to tender beginners drink in the milk of 
history ; to those advancing in faith, the food of allegory ; to 
the strenuous and sweating doers of good works, satiety in the 
savoury refection of tropology ; and finally, to those raised from 
the depths through contempt of the earthly and through heavenly 
desire progressing towards the summit, the sober intoxication of 
theoretical contemplation in the wine of anagogy. . . . History, 
through the ensample which it gives of perfect men, incites the 
reader to the imitation of hoHness ; allegory, in the revelation of 
faith, leads to a knowledge of truth ; tropology, in the instruction 
of morals, to a love of virtue ; anagogy, in the display of ever- 
lasting joys, to a desire of eternal fehcity. In the house of our 
soul, history lays the foundation, allegory erects the walls, anagogy 
puts on the roof, while tropology provides ornament, within 
through the disposition, without through the effect, of the good 
work." 2 

This work, alphabetically arranged, gave the allegorical 
significations of words used in the Vulgate, with examples ; 
for instance : 

" Ager (field) is the world, as in the Gospel : ' To the man 
who sowed good seed in his field,' that is to Christ, who sows 
preaching through the world. 

1 Migne 112, col. 849-1088. A number of these dictionaries were compiled, 
the earliest being the De formulis spintalis intellegentiae of Eucherius, Bishop 
of Lyons, who died in 450, ed. by Pauly 1884. In the later Middle Ages, Alanus 
de Insulis (post. Chapter XXX.) compiled one. 

* These distinctions, not commonly observed, are frequently reiterated. Says 
Hugo of St. Victor (see post. Chapter XXIX.) in the Prologue to his De sacramentis : 
" Divine Scripture, with threefold meaning, considers its matter historically, 
allegorically, and tropologically. History is the narrative of facts, and follows 
the primary meaning of words ; we have allegory when the fact which is told 
signifies some other fact in the past, present, or future ; and tropology when 
the narrated fact signifies that something should be done." Cf. Hugo's Didas- 
calicon, v. cap. 2, where Hugo illustrates his meaning, and points out that this 
threefold significance is not to be found in every passage of Scripture. In ibid. 
v. cap. 4, he gives seven curious rules of interpretation (Migne 176, col. 789-793). 
In his De Scripturis, etc., praenotatiunculae, cap. 3 (Migne 175, col. 11 sqq.), Hugo 
speaks of the anagogical significance in the place of the tropological. 


" Amicus (friend) is Christ, as in Canticles : ' He is my friend, 
daughters of Jerusalem,' for He loved His Church so much that 
He would die for her. . . . 

" Ancilla (handmaid) is the Church, as in the Psalms : 
' Make safe the son of thine handmaid,' that is me, who am a 
member of the Church. Ancilla, corruptible flesh, as in Genesis : 
' Cast out the handmaid and her son,' that is, despise the flesh and 
its carnal fruit. Ancilla, preachers of the Church, as in Job : 
' He will bind her with his handmaids,^ because the Lord through 
His preachers conquered the devil. Ancilla, the effeminate minds 
of the Jews, as in Job : ' Thy handmaids hold me as a stranger,' 
because the effeminate minds of the Jews knew me through faith.^ 
Ancilla, the lowly, as in Genesis, ' and meal for his handmaids,' 
because Holy Church affords spiritual refection to the lowly. 

Aqua is the Holy Spirit, Christ, subtle wisdom, loquacity, 
temporal greed, baptism, the hidden speech of the prophets, the 
holy preaching of Christ, compunction, temporal prosperity, 
adversity, human knowledge, this world's wealth, the hteral 
meaning, carnal pleasure, eternal reflection, holy angels, souls of 
the blessed, saints, humihty's lament, the devotions of the saints, 
sins of the elect which God condones, knowledge of the heretics, 
persecutions, unstable thoughts, the blandishments of tempta- 
tions, the pleasures of the wicked, the punishments of hell. 

Mons, mountain (in the singular) the Virgin Mary, monies 
(in the plural) angels, apostles, subhme precepts, the two Testa- 
ments, inner meditations, proud men, the Gentiles, evil spirits.^ 

Thus Rabanus dragged into his compilation every mean- 
ing that had ever been ascribed to the words defined. In 
him and his contemporaries, the allegorical material, apart 

1 Raban's Latin is " Ligabit earn ancillis suis " — thie verse in Job. xl. 24 
reads " Ligabis earn ancillis tuis ? " In the English version the verse is Job 
xli. 5, " Wilt thou bind him for thy maidens ? " 

2 " Per fidem me cognoverunt " ; I surmise a non is omitted. 

* I have omitted the Scriptural citations. Rabanus wrote an allegorical De 
laudibus sanctae cruets (Migne 107, col. 133-294), composed in metre with prose 
explanations, which explain very little. The metrical portion is a puzzle con- 
sisting of twenty-eight " figures," or lineal delineations interwoven in hexameter 
verses ; the words and letters contained within each figure " make sense " when 
read by themselves, and form verses in metres other than hexameters. The 
whole is as incomprehensible in meaning as it is indescribable in form. Angels, 
cherubim and seraphim, tetragons, the virtues, months, winds, elements, signs of 
the Zodiac, and other twelvefold mysteries, the days of the year, the number 
seven, the five books of Moses, the four evangelists, the seven gifts of the Holy 
Spirit, the eight beatitudes, the mystery of the number forty, the sacrament 
shown by the number fifty, — all these and much besides contribute to the glory 
of the Cross, and are delineated and arranged in cruciform manner, so as to be 
included within the scope of the cross's symbolical significance. 


from its utility for salvation, seems void of human interest or 
poetic quality, as yet unstirred by a breath, of life. That was 
to enter when allegory and all manner of symbolism began 
to form the temper of mediaeval thought, and become a 
chosen vessel of the mediaeval spirit in poetry and art. The 
vital change had taken place before the twelfth century had 
turned its first quarter. ^ 

There flourished at this time a worthy monk named 
Honorius of Autun, also called " the Solitary." It has 
been argued, and vehemently contradicted, that he was of 
German birth. At all events, monk he was and teacher at 
Autun. Those about him sought his instruction, and also 
requested him to put his discourses into writing for their use ; 
their request reads as if at that time Honorius had retired 
from among them.^ This is all that is known of the man who 
composed the most popular handbook of sermons in the 
Middle Ages. ItwascaWed the Speculum ecclesiae. Honorius 
may never have preached these sermons ; but still his book 
exists with sermons for Sundays, saints' days, and other 
Church festivals ; a sermon also to be preached at Church 
dedications, and one " sermo generalis," very useful, since it 
touched up all orders of society in succession, and a preacher 
might take or omit according to his audience. Before 
beginning, the preacher is directed to make the sign of the 
cross and invoke the Holy Spirit : he is admonished first to 
pronounce his text of Scripture in the Latin tongue, and then 
expound it in the vernacular ; ^ he is instructed as to what 
portions of certain sermons should be used under special 
circumstances, and what parts he may omit in winter when 
the church is cold, or when in summer it is too hot ; or 
this is left quite to his discretion : " Here make an end 
if you wish ; but if time permits, continue thus." 

^ Since allegory and the spirit of symbolism pervaded all mediaeval thought, 
the present and two following chapters aim only at setting forth the elements 
(with pertinent examples) of this quite limitless subject. 

" See prefatory epistle to Speculum ecclesiae, Migne 172, col. 8r3. Com- 
pare the prefatory epistle to the Gemma animae, ibid. col. 541, and the 
Preface to the Elucidarium, ibid. col. 1109. Probably Honorius died about 
1130. Cf. J. A. Endres, Honorius Augustodensis (Augsburg, 1906). 

* We have these sermons only in Latin. Presumably a preacher using 
them, gave them in that language or rendered them in the vernacular as he 
thought fit. 


Most of these sermons are short, and contain much 
excellent moral advice put simply and directly. They also 
make constant use of allegory, and evidently Honorius's 
chief care in their composition was to expound his text 
allegorically and point the allegory's application to the needs 
of his supposed audience. Neither he nor any man of his 
time devised many novel allegorical interpretations ; but the 
old ones had at length become part of the mediaeval spirit 
and the regular means of apprehending the force and 
meaning of Scripture. Consequently Honorius handles his 
allegories more easily, and makes a more natural human 
application of them, than Rabanus or Walafrid had done. 
Sometimes the allegory seems to ignore the moral lesson 
of the literal facts ; but while a smile may escape us in 
reading Honorius, the allegories in his sermons are rarely 
strained and shocking, likewise rarely dull. A general 
point from which he regards the narratives and institutions 
of the Old Testament is summed up in his statement, that 
for us Christ turned all provisions of the law into spiritual 
sacraments.^ The whole Old Testament has pre-figurative 
significance and spiritual meaning ; and likewise every narra- 
tive in the Gospels is spiritual. 

Two or three examples will illustrate Honorius's edifying 
way of using allegory. His sermon for the eleventh Sunday 
after Pentecost is typical of his manner. The text is from 
the thirty-first ^ Psalm : " Blessed is the man to whom the 
Lord will not impute sin." Opening with an exhortation to 
penitence and tears and almsgiving, the preacher turns to 
the self-righteous " whose obstinacy the Lord curbs in the 
Gospel for the day, telling how two went up into the temple 
to pray, the one a Pharisee, to wit, one of the Jewish clergy, 
the other a Publican." After proceeding for a while with 
sound and obvious comment on the situation, Honorius says : 

" By the two men who went up into the temple to pray, two 
peoples, the Jewish and the Gentile, are meant. The Pharisee 
who went close to the altar is the Jewish people, who possessed the 

^ " Ommia legalia Christus nobis convertit in sacramenta spiritualia " is 
Honorius's apt phrase (which may be borrowed !), Migne 172, col. 842. His 
special reference is to circumcision. 

* Ps. xxxi. Vulgate ; Ps. xxxii. 2, Authorized Version. 


Sanctuary and the Ark. He tells aloud his merits in the temple, 
because in the world he boasts of his observance of the law. 

" The Publican who stands afar off is the Gentile people, who 
were far off from the worship of God. He did not Uf t up his eyes 
to heaven, because the Gentile was agape at the things of earth. 
He beat his breast when he bewailed his error through penitence ; 
and because he humbled himself in confession, God exalted him 
through pardon. Let us also, beloved, thus stand afar off, 
deeming ourselves unworthy of the holy sacraments and the 
companionship of the saints. Let us not lift up our eyes to 
heaven, but deem ourselves unworthy of it. Let us beat our 
breasts and punish our misdeeds with tears. Let us fall prostrate 
before God ; and let us weep in the presence of the Lord who 
made us, so that He may turn our lament to joy, rend asunder 
our garb of mourning, and clothe us with happiness." 

Honorius lingers a moment with some further exhortations 
suggested by his parable, and then turns to the edification to 
be found in fables wisely composed by profane writers. Let 
not the congregation be scandalized ; for the children of 
Israel despoiled the Egyptians of gold and gems and precious 
vesture, which they afterwards devoted to completing the 
tabernacle. Pious Christians spoil the Egyptians when they 
turn profane studies to spiritual account. The philosophers 
tell of a woman bound to a revolving wheel, her head now 
up, now down. The wheel is this world's glory, and the 
woman is that fortune which depends on it. Again, they 
tell of one who tries to roll a stone to the top of a mountain ; 
but, near the top, it hurls the wretch prostrate with its weight 
and crashes back to the bottom ; and again, of one whose 
liver is eaten by a vulture, and, when consumed, grows 
again. The man who pushes up the stone is he who toil- 
somely amasses dignities, to be plunged by them to hell ; 
and he of the liver is the man upon whose heart lust feeds. 
From that pest, they say, Medusa sprang, with noble form 
exciting many to lust, but with her look turning them to 
stone. She is wantonness, who turns to stone the hearts 
of the lewd through their lustful pleasure. Perseus slew her, 
covering himself with his crystalline shield ; for the strong 
man, gazing into virtue's mirror, averts his heart's counte- 
nance [i.e. from wantonness). The sword with which he 
kills her is the fear of everlasting fire. 


Then, continues Honorius, we read of a boy brought up 
by one of the Fathers in a hermitage ; but as he grew to 
youth he was tickled with lust. The Father commanded 
him to go alone into the desert and pass forty days in 
fasting and prayer. When some twenty days had passed, 
there appeared a naked woman foul and stinking, who thrust 
herself upon him, and he, unable to endure her stench, began 
to repel her. At which she asked : " Why do you shudder 
at the sight of me for whom you burned ? I am the image 
of lust, which appears sweet to men's hearts. If you had 
not obeyed the Father, you would have been overthrown by 
me as others have been." So he thanked God for snatching 
him from the spirit of fornication. Many other examples 
lead us to the path of life. 

Honorius closes with the story of the " Three Fools," 
observed by a certain Father : the first an Ethiopian who was 
unable to move a faggot of wood, which he would continually 
unbind and make still heavier by adding further sticks ; the 
second, a man pouring water into a vase which had no 
bottom ; and, thirdly, the two men who came bearing before 
them crosswise a beam of wood ; as they neared the city gate 
neither would let the other precede him even a little, and so 
both remained without. The Ethiopian who adds to his in- 
supportable faggot is he who continually increases his weight of 
sin, adding new sins to old ones unrepented of ; he who pours 
water into the vase with no bottom is he who by his unclean- 
ness loses the merit of his good acts ; and the two who bear 
the beam crosswise are those bound by the yoke of Pride. ^ 

Such are good examples of the queer stories to which 
preachers resorted. One notices that whatever be the source 
from which Honorius draws, his interest is always in the 
allegory found in the narratives. Another very apt example 
of his manner is his treatment of the story of the Good 
Samaritan, so often depicted on Gothic church windows. 
For us this parable carries an exhaustless wealth of direct 
application in human life ; it was regarded very differently 
by Honorius and the glass painters, whose windows are a 
pictorial transcription of the first half of his sermon. ^ 

1 speculum ecclesiae, " Dominica XI." (Migne 172, col. 1053 sqq.). 
" Yet, curiously enough, near the time when I was making the following 
translation, I heard an elderly country clergyman preach substantially this sermon 



" Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of 
the ungodly " — this is the text ; and Honorius proceeds : 

" Adam was the unhappy man who through the counsel of 
the wicked departed from his native land of Paradise and dragged 
all his descendants into this exile. He thus stood in the way of 
sinners, because he remained stable in sin. He sat ' in the seat 
of the scornful,' because by evil example he taught others to sin. 
But Christ arose, the blessed man who walketh in the counsel of 
the Father from the hall of heaven into prison after the lost 
servant. He did not walk in the counsel of the ungodly when the 
devil showed Him all the kingdoms of the world ; He did not 
stand in the way of sinners, because he committed no sin ; He did 
not sit in the seat of the scornful, since neither by word nor deed 
did He teach evil. Thus as that unhappy man drew all his carnal 
children into death, this blessed man brought all His sons to hfe. 
As He himself sets forth in the Gospel : ' A certain man went 
down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and robbers attacked and 
wounded him, stripped him and went away. And by chance 
there came that way a certain priest, who seeing him half-dead, 
crossed to the other side. Likewise a Levite passed by when he 
had seen him. But a Samaritan coming that same way, had 
compassion on the poor wretch, bound up his wounds and poured 
in oil and wine, and setting him on his own beast, brought him 
to an inn. The next day he gave the innkeeper two pence and 
asked that he care for him, and if more was needed He promised 
to repay the innkeeper on His return. 

" Surely man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho when our 
first parent from the joys of Paradise entered death's eclipse. 
For Jericho, which means moon, designates the ecHpse of our 
mortaUty. Whereby man fell among thieves, since a swarm of 
demons at once surrounded the exile. Wherefore also they 
despoiled him, since they stripped him of the riches of Paradise 
and the garment of immortality. They gave him wounds, for 
sins flowed in upon him. They left him half-dead, because dead 
in soul. The priest passed down the same way, as the Order of 
Patriarchs proceeded along the path of mortality. The priest 
left him wounded, having no power to aid the human race while 
himself sore wounded with sins. The Levite went that way, 
inasmuch as the Order of Prophets also had to tread the path of 
death. He too passed by the wounded man, because he could 
bear no human aid to the lost while himself groaning under the 
wounds of sin. The wretch half-dead was healed by the 
Samaritan, for the man set apart through Christ is made whole. 

of Honorius — wherever he may have culled it, perhaps from some useful 
" Homiletical " Commentary. 


" Samaria was the chief city of the IsraeUtish kingdom whose 
chiefs were led away to idolatry in Nineveh, and Gentiles were 
placed in her. The Jews abhorred their fellowship, making 
them a byword of malediction. So when revihng the Lord, they 
called Him a Samaritan. The Lord was the true Samaritan, 
being called guardian {custos) since the human race is guarded by 
Him. He went down this way when from heaven He came into 
this world. He saw the wounded traveller, inasmuch as He saw 
man held in misery and sin. He was moved with compassion 
for him, since for man He undergoes aU pains. Approaching, He 
bound his wounds when, proclaiming eternal hfe. He taught man 
to cease from sin. He bound his wounds together with the two 
parts of the bandage when He quelled sins through two fears — 
the servile fear which forbids through penalties, and the filial fear 
which exhorts the holy to good works. He drew tight the lower 
part of the bandage when He struck men's hearts with fear of 
hell. Their worm. He said, does not die, and their fire is not 
quenched. He drew tight the upper part when He taught the 
fear which belongs to the study of good. ' The children of the 
kingdom,' said He, ' shall be cast into outer darkness, where there is 
weeping and gnashing of teeth.' He poured in wine and oil when 
He taught repentance and pardon. He poured in wine when He 
said, ' Repent ye ' ; He added oil when He said, ' for the kingdom 
of heaven is at hand.' He set him upon His beast when He bore 
our sins in His body on the Cross. He led him to the inn when 
He joined him to the supernal Church. The inn, in which hving 
beings are assembled at night, is the present Church, where the 
just are harboured amid the darkness of this life until the Day 
of Eternity blows and the shadows of mortality give way. 

" The next day He tendered the two pence. The first day 
was of death, th6-next of life. The day of death began with 
Adam, when all die. The day of life took its beginning from 
Christ, in whom all shall be made alive. Before Christ's 
resurrection all men were travelling to death ; since His resurrec- 
tion all the faithful have been rising to hfe. He tendered the 
two pence the next day — when after His resurrection He taught 
that the two Testaments were fulfilled by the two precepts of 
love. He gave the pence to the innkeeper when He committed 
the doctrine of the law of hfe to the Order of Doctors. He 
directed him to tend the sick man when He commanded that 
the human race should be saved from sin. The stench drove the 
sick man from the inn, because this world's tribulation drives the 
righteous to seek the things celestial. Two pence are given to 
the innkeeper when the Doctors are raised on high by Scriptural 
knowledge and temporal honour. If they should require more. 
He repays them on His return ; for if they exemplify good preach- 


ing with good works, when the true Samaritan returns to judg- 
ment and leads him, aforetime wounded but now healed, from 
the inn to the celestial mansion, He will repay the zealous stewards 
with eternal rewards." ^ 

Here Honorius proceeds to expound the allegory con- 
tained in the healing of the dumb man and the ten lepers, 
and closes his sermon with two narratives, one of a poor 
idiot who sang the Gloria without ceasing, and was seen in 
glory after death ; the other of a lay nun [conversa) around 
whose last hours were shed sweet odours and a miraculous 
light, while those present heard the chant of heavenly voices. 

The parables of Christ present types which we may 
apply in life according to circumstances. In the concrete 
instance of the parable we find the universal, and we deem 
Christ meant it so. Thus we also view the parables as 
symbols, which they were. Honorius, with the vast company 
of mediaeval and patristic expounders, ordinarily directs the 
symbolism of the parables in a special mode, whereby — like 
the stories of the Old Testament — they become figurative 
of Christ and the needy soul of man, or figurative of the 
Christian dispensation with its historical antecedents and its 
Day of Judgment at the end. 

The like may be said of Honorius's allegorical interpreta- 
tion of Greek legends. These ancient stories have the 
perennial youth of human charm and meaning ever new. 
They had been good old stories to the Greeks, and then 
acquired further intendment as later men discerned a broader 
symbolism in them. Even in classic times, Homer's stories 
had been turned to allegories, philosophers and critics some- 
times finding in them a spiritual significance not unlike that 
which the same tales may bear for us. But with this 
difference : the later Greeks usually were trying to explain 
away the somewhat untrammelled ways of the Homeric 
pantheon, and therefore maintained that Homer's stories were 
composed as allegories, the wise and mystic poet choosing 
thus to veil his meaning. To-day we find the clarity of 
daybreak in Homer's tales, and if we make symbols of them 
we know the symbolism is not his but ours. Honorius 
chooses to think that allegory had always lain in the old 

^ speculum ecclesiae, " Dominica XIII." (Migne 172, col. 1059-1061). 


story ; he will not deem it the invention of himself or other 
Christian writers. Here his attitude is not unlike that of the 
apologetic Greek critics. But his interpretations are apt to 
differ from theirs as well as from our own. For his symbolism 
tends to abandon the broadly human, and to become, like 
the mediaeval Biblical interpretations, figurative of the 
tenets of the Christian Faith. 

There is an interesting example of this in the sermon for 
Septuagesima Sunday, which was written on a somewhat 
blind text from the twenty-eighth chapter of Job. Honorius 
proceeds expounding it through a number of strained 
allegories, which he doubtless drew from Gregory's Moralia ; 
for that great pope was the recognized expositor of Job, and 
the Book of Job was simply Gregory through all the Middle 
Ages. Perhaps Honorius felt that this sermon was rather 
soporific. At all events he stops in the middle to give a 
piece of advice to the supposed preacher : " Often put some- 
thing of this kind in your sermon ; for so you will relieve 
the tedium." And he continues thus : 

" Brethren, on this holy day there is much to say which I 
must pass over in silence, lest disgusted you should wish to leave 
the church before the end. For some of you have come far and 
must go a long way to reach your houses. Or perhaps, some 
have guests at home, or crying babies ; or others are not swift 
and have to go elsewhere, while to some a bodily infirmity brings 
uneasiness lest they expose themselves. So I omit much for 
everybody's sake, but still would say a few words. 

" Because to-day, beloved, we have laid aside the song of 
gladness and taken up the song of sadness, I would briefly tell 
you something from the books of the pagans, to show how you 
should reject the melody of this world's pleasures in order that 
hereafter with the angels you may make sweet harmonies in 
heaven. For one should pick up a gem found in dung and set it 
as a kingly ornament ; thus if we find anything useful in pagan 
books we should turn it to the building up of the Church, which 
is Christ's spouse. The wise of this world write that there were 
three Syrens in an island of the sea, who used to chant the sweetest 
song in divers tones. One sang, another piped, the third played 
upon a lyre. They had the faces of women, the talons and wings 
of birds. They stopped all passing ships with the sweetness of 
their song ; they rent the sailors heavy with sleep ; they sank 
the ships in the brine. When a certain duke, Ulysses, had to sail 
by their island, he ordered his comrades to bind him to the mast 


and stuff their ears with wax. Thus he escaped the peril un- 
harmed, and plunged the Syrens in the waves. These, beloved, 
are mysteries, although written by the enemies of Christ. By 
the sea is to be understood this age which rolls beneath the 
unceasing blasts of tribulations. The island is earth's joy, which 
is intercepted by crowding pains, as the shore is beat upon by 
crowding waves. The three S5n:ens who with sweet caressing 
song overturn the navigators in sleep, are three delights which 
soften men's hearts for vice and lead them into the sleep of death. 
She who sings with human voice is Avarice, and to her hearers 
thus she tunes her song : ' Thou shouldst get together much, so 
as to be able to spread wide thy fame, and also visit the Lord's 
sepulchre and other places, restore churches, aid the poor and thy 
relatives as well.' With such baneful song she charms the miser's 
heart, until the sleep of death oppresses him. Then she tears 
his flesh, the wave devours the ship, and the wretch by fierce 
pains is waked from his riches and plunged in eternal flame. 
She who plays upon the pipe is Vainglory [Jactantia), and thus 
she pipes her lay for hers : ' Thou art in thy youth, and noble ; 
make thyself appear glorious. Spare no enemies, but kill them 
all when able. Then people will call thee a good knight.' Again 
will she chant : ' Thou shouldst win Jerusalem, and give great 
alms. Then thou wilt be famous, and wilt be called good by all.' 
To the lay brethren {conversis) she sings : ' Thou must fast ^nd 
pray always, singing with loud voice. Then wilt thou hear 
thyself lauded as a saint by all.' Such song with vain heart she 
makes resound till the whirlpool of death devours the wretch 
emptied of worth. 

" She who sings to a lyre is Wantonness (Luxuria), and she 
chants melodies hke these to her parasites : ' Thou art in thy 
youth ; now is the time to sport with the girls — old age will do to 
reform in. Here is one with a fine figure ; this one is rich ; from 
this one you would gain much. There is plenty of time to save 
your soul.' In such way she melts the hearts of the wanton till 
Cocytus's waves engulf them suddenly tripped by death. 

" They have the faces of women, because nothing so estranges 
man from God as the love of women. They have wings of birds, 
because the desire of worldlings is always unstable, their appetites 
now craving one thing, and again their lust fis^ng to another 
object. They have also the talons of birds, because they tear 
their victims as they snatch them away to the torments of hell. 
Ulysses is called Wise. Unharmed he steers his course by the 
island, because the truly wise Christian swims over the sea of this 
world, in the ship of the Church. By the fear of God he binds 
himself to the mast of the ship, that is, to the cross of Christ ; 
with wax, that is with the incarnation of Christ, he seals the ears 



of his comrades, that they may turn their hearts from lusts and 
vices and yearn only for heavenly things. The Syrens are sub- 
merged, because he is protected from their lusts by the strength 
of the Spirit. Unharmed the voyagers avoid the peril, inasmuch 
as through victory they reach the joys of the saints." ^ 

^ speculum ecclesiae, " Dominica in Septuagesima " (Migne 172, col. 855-857). 
Honorius may have forgotten the weariness of his supposed audience ; for his 
sermon goes on with further admonition as to how the victory is to be won. 

The allegorical interpretation of Scripture is exemplified in the whole limitless 
mass of mediaeval sermons. Illustrations from St. Bernard's sermons on Canticles 
are given in Chapter XVIII., also post, in Chapter XXXVII., 11. 



Just as the Middle Ages followed the allegorical interpreta- 
tion of Scripture elaborated by the Church Fathers, so they 
also accepted, and even made more precise, the patristic 
inculcation of the efficacy of such most potent symbols as the 
water of baptism and the bread and wine transubstantiated 
in the Eucharist.^ Passing onward from these mighty bases 
of conviction, the mediaeval genius made fertile use of 
allegory in the polemics of Church and State, and exalted 
the symbolical principle into an ultimate explanation of the 
visible universe. 

Notable was the career of allegory in politics. Through- 
out the long struggle of the Papacy with the Empire and 
other secular monarchies, arguments drawn from allegory 
never ceased to carry weight, A very shibboleth was the 
witness of the " two swords " (Luke xxii. 38), both of which, 
the temporal as well as spiritual, the Church held to have 
been entrusted to her keeping for the ordering of earthly 
affairs, to the end that men's souls should be saved. Still 
more fluid was the argumentative nostrum of mankind con- 
ceived as an Organism, or animate body {unum corpus, 
corpus mysticum). This metaphor was found in more than 
one of the Latin classics ; but patristic and mediaeval writers 
took it from the works of Paul.^ The likeness of the human 
body to the body politic or ecclesiastic was carried out 

1 For the Eucharist in the Carolingian period see ante, Chapter X. Berengar 
of Tours is spoken of in Chapter XII., iv. 

2 Many members in one body, one body in Christ (Rom. xii. 4, 5). 



in every imaginable detail, and used acutely or absurdly 
by politicians and schoolmen from the eleventh century 

We turn to the symbolical explanation of the universe. 
In the first half of the twelfth century, a profoundly medita- 
tive soul, Hugo of St. Victor by name, attempted a systematic 
exposition of the symbolical or sacramental plan inhering in 
God's scheme of creation. Of the man, as with so many 
monks and schoolmen whose names and works survive, little 
is known beyond the presentation of his personality afforded 
by his writings. He taught in the monastic school of St. 
Victor, a community that had a story, with which may be 
connected the scanty facts of the short and happy pilgrimage 
to God, which made Hugo's life on earth. ^ 

When William of Champeaux, according to Abaelard's 
account, was routed from his logical positions in the 
cathedral school of Paris, ^ he withdrew from the school 
and from the city to the quiet of a secluded spot on the 
left bank of the Seine, not far distant from Notre-Dame. 
Here was an ancient chapel dedicated to Saint- Victor, and 
here William, with some companions, organized themselves 
into a monastic community according to the rule of the 
canons of St. Augustine. This was in 1108. If for a 
time William laid aside his studies and lecturing, he soon 
resumed them at the solicitations of his scholars, joined to 
those of his friend Hildebert, Bishop of Le Mans.* And so 
the famous school of Saint- Vict or began. William remained 
there only four years, being made Bishop of Chalons in 1112, 
and thereafter figuring prominently in Church councils, 
frequent in France at this epoch. 

1 Cf. post, Chapter XXXIV., v. 

^ The works of Hugo of Saint- Victor are contained in Migne's Patrologia 
Latina, 175-177 (Paris, 1854 ; the reprint of 1882 is' full of misprints). 
The Prolegomena (in French) of Mgr. Hugonin are elaborate and valuable. 
Mignon, Les Origines de la scholastique et Hugues de Saint-Victor (2 vols., 
Paris, 1895), follows Hugonin's writing and adds little of value. An exposition 
of Hugo's philosophy is to be found in Stockl, Geschichfe der Philosophie des 
Mittelalters, Band I. pp. 305-355 (Mainz, 1864). On the authenticity of the 
writings ascribed to him see Haureau, Les CBuvres de Hugues de Saint-Victor 
(2nd ed., Paris, 1886). For Hugo's position in the history of scholasticism and 
mysticism see post. Chapter XXXVII., 11. 

3 Post, Chapter XXXVII., i. 

* Hildebert's letter is given post. Chapter XXXI., iii. 


Under William's disciple and successor, Gilduin, the 
community flourished and increased. King Louis VI., 
whose confessor was Gilduin himself, endowed it liberally, 
and other donors were not lacking. Saint- Victor became 
rich, and its fame for learning and holiness spread far and 
wide.^ Abbot Gilduin lived to see more than forty houses 
of monks or regular canons ^ flourishing as dependencies of 
Saint- Victor. He died in 1155, some years after the death 
of the young man whose scholarship and genius was the 
pride of the Victorine community. 

Notwithstanding a statement in an old manuscript, that 
Hugo was born near Ypres in Flanders, the ancient tradition 
of Saint- Victor, confirmed by the records of the cathedral of 
Halberstadt, shows him to have been a son of the Count of 
Blankemberg, and born at Hartingam in Saxony.^ His 
uncle Reinhard was Bishop of Halberstadt, where his great- 
uncle, named Hugo like himself, was archdeacon. Reinhard 
had been a pupil of William of Champeaux at Saint- Victor, 
and after becoming bishop continued to cherish a profound 
esteem for him. The young Hugo renounced his inheritance 
and entered a monastery not far from Halberstadt ; but 
soon, in view of the disturbed affairs of Saxony, his uncle 
Reinhard urged him to go and pursue his studies at Saint- 
Victor. The young man persuaded his great-uncle Hugo 
to accompany him. By circuitous routes, visiting various 
places of pious interest on the way, the two reached Saint- 
Victor, where they were received with all honour by the 
abbot Gilduin. This was not far from the year 11 15, and 
Hugo was about twenty at the time. He was already an 
accomplished scholar, and doubtless it is to his previous 

1 On the neighbouring schools of Notre-Dame and St. Genevieve see post, 
Chapter XXXVIII. 

^ At the opening of his Expositio in regulam beati Augustini, Migne 176, 
col. 881, Hugo explains that the precepts under which a monastic community 
lives are called the regula, and what we call a regula is called a canon by the 
Greeks ; and those are called canonici or regulates, who " juxta regularia 
praecepta sanctorum Patrum canonice atque apostolice vivunt." Thus the 
" regular canons " of St. Augustine were monks who lived according to the rule 
ascribed to that saint. In the case of the Victorines the rule was drawn up 
chiefly by Abbot Gilduin. See Prolegomena to the works of Hugo, Migne 175, 
col. xxiv. sqq. 

* See the Prolegomena to the works of Hugo de Saint-Victor, by Hugonin, 
Migne 175, col. xl. sqq. 


studies that he refers when he speaks as follows in his book 
of elementary instruction, called the Didascalicon : 

" I dare say that I never despised anything pertaining to 
learning, and learned much that might strike others as hght and 
vain. I practised memorizing the names of everything I saw or 
heard of, thinking that I could not properly study the nature of 
things unless I knew their names. Daily I examined my notes 
of topics, that I might hold in my memory every proposition, 
with the questions, objections, and solutions. I would inform 
myself as to controversies and consider the proper order of the 
argument on either side, carefully distinguishing what pertained 
to the office of rhetoric, oratory, and sophistry. I set problems 
of numbers ; I drew figures on the pavement with charcoal, and 
with the figure before me I demonstrated the different qualities 
of the obtuse, the acute and the right angle, and also of the 
square. Often I watched out the nocturnal horoscope through 
winter nights. Often I strung my harp {Saepe ad numerum 
protensum in ligno magadam ducere solebam) that I might perceive 
the different sounds and likewise delight my mind with the sweet 
notes. All these were boyish occupations {puerilia) but not 
useless. Nor does it burden my stomach to know them now." ^ 

Not long after Hugo's arrival at Saint-Victor he began 
to teach at the monastery school, and upon the death of its 
director, in 1133, succeeded to the office, which he held 
until his death in 1141.^ Colourless and grey are the outer 
facts of a monk's life, counting but little. The soul of a 
Hugo of Saint- Victor did not soil itself with any interest 
in the pleasures of the world : " He is not solitary with 
whom is God, nor is the power of joy extinguished because 
his appetite is kept from things abject and vile. He rather 
does himself an injustice who admits to the society of his 
joy what is disgraceful or unworthy of his love." ^ 

Hugo belonged to the aristocracy of contemplative piety, 
with its scorn of whatever lies without the pale of the soul's 

^ Didascalicon, vi. 3 (Migne 176, col. 799). Other contents of this work are 
given post, Chapter XXXVII., i. 

2 His death is touchingly described in a letter of Osbert, the canon in 
charge of the infirmary. See Migne 175, col. xlvii. and clxi. 

^ Hugo, De arrha animae, Migne 176, col. 954. Yet Hugo sometimes was 
stung with an irrelevant pang for the German fatherland, which he had left : "I 
have been an exile since my boyhood, and I know how the mind grieves to for- 
sake some poor hut's narrow hearth, and how easUy it may then despise the marble 
hall and fretted roof " [Didascalicon, ui. 20 ; Migne 176, col. 778). Compare the 
single letter of Hugo that has a personal note, Ep. i. (Migne 176, col. loii). 


companionship with God. In his independent way he 
followed Augustine, and Augustine's Platonism, which was 
so largely the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus and Porphyry. He 
also followed the real Plato speaking in the Timaeus, with 
which he was acquainted. Plato would have nothing to do 
with allegorical interpretation as a defence of Homer's gods ; 
but he could himself make very pretty allegories, and his 
theory of ideas as at once types and creative intelligences 
lent itself to Christian systems of symbolism. In this way 
he was a spiritual ancestor of Hugo, who found in God the 
type-ideas of all things that He created. Moreover, if not 
Plato, at least his spiritual children — Clement of Alexandria, 
Origen, Plotinus — ^recognized that the highest truths must 
be known in modes transcending reason and its syllogisms, 
although these were the necessary avenues of approach. 
Hugo likewise regarded rational knowledge as but the 
path by which the soul ascends to the plateau of con- 
templation. The general aspects of his philosophy will be 
considered in a later chapter. Here he is to be viewed as 
a mediaeval symbolist, upon whom pressed a sense of the 
symbolism of all visible things. An examination of his 
great De sacramentis Christianae fidei will disclose that 
with Hugo the material creation in its deepest verity is a 
symbol ; that Scripture, besides its literal meaning, is allegory 
from Genesis to Revelation ; that the means of salvation 
provided by the Church are sacramental, and thus essentially 
symbolical, consisting of perfected and potent symbols which 
have been shadowed forth in the unperfected sacramental 
character of all God's works from the beginning.^ 

Hugo's little Preface {praefatiuncula) mentions certain 
requests made to him to write a book on the Sacraments. 
In undertaking it, he proposes to present in better form 
many things dictated from time to time rather negligently. 
Whatever he has taken from his previous writings he has 
revised as seemed best. Should there appear any in- 
consistency between what he may have said elsewhere and 
the language of the present work, he begs the reader to 
regard the present as the better form of statement. His 

1 The De sacramentis Christianae fidei is printed in Migne 176, col. 174-618. 
It is thus a lengthy work. 


method will be to treat his matter in the order of time ; 
and to this end his work is divided into two Books. 
The first discusses the subject from the Beginning of the 
World until the Incarnation of the Word ; the second 
continues it from the Incarnation to the final Consummation 
of all things. He explains that as he has elsewhere spoken 
at length upon the primary or historical meaning of Holy 
Writ/ he will devote himself here rather to its secondary or 
allegorical significance. 

Hugo further explains the subject of his treatise in a 
Prologue : 

" The work of man's restoration is the subject-matter {materia) 
of all the Scriptures. There are two works, the work of founda- 
tion and the work of restoration, which include everything 
whatsoever. The former is the creation of the world with all its 
elements ; the latter is the incarnation of the Word with all its 
sacraments, those which went before from the beginning and those 
which follow even to the end of the world. For the incarnate 
Word is our King, who came into this world to fight the devil. 
And all the saints who were before His coming, were as soldiers 
going before His face ; and those who have come and will come 
after, until the end of the world, are as soldiers who follow their 
king. He is the King in the centre of His army, advancing girt 
by His troops. And although in such a multitude divers shapes 
of arms appear in the sacraments and observances of those who 
precede and come after, yet all are soldiers under one king and 
follow one banner ; they pursue one enemy and with one victory 
are crowned. In all of this may be observed the work of 

" Scripture gives first a brief account of the work of creation. 
For it could not aptly show how man was restored unless it had 
previously explained how he had fallen ; nor could it show how 
he had fallen, without first showing how God had made him, for 
which in turn it was necessary to set forth the creation of the 
whole world, because the world was made for man. The spirit 
was created for God's sake ; the body for the spirit's sake, and 
the world for the body's sake, so that the spirit might be subject 
to God, the body to the spirit, and the world to the body. In 

^ Hugo evidently refers to his De Scripturis et scriptoribus sacris prae- 
notatiunculae, and his various Adnotationes elucidatoriae, which will be found 
printed in vol. 175 of Migne's Patrologia Latina. In chap. v. of the work first 
mentioned (Migne 175, col. 13) he speaks sensibly of the folly of those who profess 
not to care for the literal historical meaning of the sacred text, but, in ignorance, 
spring at once to very inept allegorical interpretations. 


this order, therefore. Holy Scripture describes first the creation 
of the world which was made for man ; then it tells how man 
was made and set in the way of righteousness and disciphne ; 
after that, how man fell ; and finaUy how he was restored 

In these first little chapters of his Prologue, Hugo has 
grouped his topics suggestively. The world was made for 
man, and therefore the account of its creation is needed in 
order to understand man. Moreover, that man's body exists 
for his spirit's sake, at once suggests that a significance 
beyond the literal meaning is likely to dwell in that account 
of the material creation which enables us to understand 
man. The soul needs instruction and guidance ; and God 
in creating the world for man surely had in view his most 
important interests, which were not those of his mortal body, 
but those of his soul. So the creation of the world subserves 
man's spiritual interests, and the divine account of it carries 
spiritual instruction. The allegorical significance of the 
world's creation, which answers to man's spiritual needs, is 
as veritable and real as the facts of the world's material 
foundation, which answers to the needs of his body. Thus 
symbolism is rooted in the character and purpose of the 
material creation ; it lies in the God-implanted nature of 
things ; therefore the allegorical interpretation of the 
Scriptures corresponds to their deepest meaning and the 
revealed plan of God. 

These principles underlie Hugo's exposition of the 
Christian sacraments, whose unperfected prototypes existed 
in the work of the Creation. No fact of sacred history, no 
single righteous pre-Christian observance, was unaffiliated 
with them. An adequate understanding of their nature 
involves a fuU knowledge not only of Christian doctrine, but 
of all other knowledge profitable to men — as Hugo clearly 
indicates in the remaining portion of his Prologue : 

" Whence it appears how much divine Scripture in subtle 
profundity surpasses all other writings, not only in its matter 
but in the way of treating it. In other writings the words alone 
carry meaning : in Scripture not only the words, but the things 
may mean something. Wherefore just as a knowledge of the 
words is needed in order to know what things are signified, so a 
knowledge of the things is needed in order to determine their 


mystical signification of other things which have been or ought to 
be done. The knowledge of words falls under two heads : 
expression, and the substance of their meaning. Grammar 
relates only to expression, dialectic only to meaning, while rhetoric 
relates to both. A knowledge of things requires a knowledge of 
their form and of their nature. Form consists in external con- 
figuration, nature in internal quality. Form is treated as number, 
to which arithmetic apphes ; or as proportion, to which music 
applies ; or as dimension, to which geometry apphes ; or as 
motion, to which pertains astronomy. But physics (physica) 
looks to the inner nature of things. 

" It follows that all the natural arts serve Divine Science, and 
the lower knowledge rightly ordered leads to the higher. History, 
i.e. the historical meaning, is that in which words signify things, 
and its servants, as already said, are the three sciences, grammar, 
dialectic, and rhetoric. When, however, things signify facts 
mystically, we have allegory ; and when things mystically 
signify what ought to be done, we have tropology. These two 
are served by arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy, and 
physics. Above and beyond all is that divine something to 
which divine Scripture leads, either in allegory or tropology. 
Of this the one part (which is in allegory) is right faith, and the 
other (which is in tropology) is good conduct : in these consist 
knowledge of truth and love of virtue, and this is the true 
restoration of man." ^ 

Hugo has now stated his position. The rationale of the 
world's creation lies in the nature of man. The Seven 
Liberal Arts, and incidentally all human knowledge, in hand- 
maidenly manner, promote an understanding of man as well 
as of the saving teaching contained in Scripture-. This was 
the common mediaeval view ; but Hugo proves it through 
application of the principles of symbolism and allegorical 
interpretation. By these instruments he orders the arts and 
sciences according to their value in his Christian system, and 
makes all human knowledge subserve the intellectual 
economy of the soul's progress to God. 

An exposition of the Work of the Six Days opens the 
body of Hugo's treatise. God created all things from 
nothing, and at once. His creation was at first unformed ; 
not absolutely formless, but in the form of confusion, out of 
which in the six days He wrought the form of ordered dis- 

1 De sacramentis, Prologus (Migne 176, col. 183-185). A more elementary 
statement may be foimd in De Scripiuris, etc., cap. xiii. (Migne 175, col. 20). 


position. The first creation included the matter of corporeal 
things and (in the angelic nature) the essence of things 
invisible ; for the rational creature may be said to be un- 
formed until it take form through turning unto its Creator, 
whereby it gains beauty and blessedness from Him through 
the conversion which is of love. Thus the matter of every 
corporeal thing which God afterwards made, existed from 
the time of His first creation, and likewise the image of 
everything invisible. For although new souls are still 
created every day, their image existed previously in the 
angelic spirits. 

Then God made light, the unformed material of which 
He had created in the beginning. 

" And at the very moment when light was visibly and cor- 
poreally separated from darkness, the good angels were invisibly 
set apart from the wicked angels who were falling in the darkness 
of sin. The good were illumined and converted to the light of 
righteousness, that they might be Hght and not darkness. Thus 
we ought to perceive a consonance in the works of God, the 
visible work conforming to the issue of the invisible in such wise 
that the Wisdom which worked in both may in the former instruct 
by an example and in the latter execute judgment." 

The severance of light from darkness is the material 
example of how God executes judgment in dividing the 
good from the evil. In this visible work of God a " sacra- 
ment " is discernible, since every soul, so long as it is in 
sin, is in darkness and confusion. All the visible works of 
God offer spiritual lessons {spiritualia praeferunt documenta) . 
They have sacramental qualities, and yet are not perfected 
and completed sacraments, as will hereafter appear from 
Hugo's definition. 

Following the order of creation, Hugo now speaks of 
the firmament which God set in the midst of the waters to 
divide them : 

" He who believes that this was made for his sake will not look 
for the reason of it outside of himself. For it all was made in the 
image of the world within him ; the earth which is below, is the 
sensual nature of man, and the heaven above is the purity of his 
intelligence quickening to immortal life." 

The rational and unseen are a world as well as the 


material and visible. The sacramental quality of the 
material worid lies in its correspondence to the unseen 
world. When Hugo speaks of the " sacramenta " in the 
creation of light and the waters divided by the firmament, 
he means that in addition to their material nature as light 
and water, they are essentially symbols. Their symbolism 
is as veritably part of their nature as the symbolical character 
of the Eucharist is part of the nature of the consecrated 
bread and wine. The sacraments are among the deepest 
verities of the Christian Faith. And the same representative 
verity that exists in them, exists, in less perfected mode, 
throughout God's entire creation. So the argument carries 
out the principles of the sacraments and the principles of 
symbolism to a full explanation of the world ; and Hugo's 
work upon the Sacraments presents his theory of the universe. 

" Many other mysteries," says Hugo, closing the first " Part " 
of his first Book, "could be pointed out in the work of the creation. 
But we briefly speak of these matters as a suitable approach to 
the subject set before us. For our purpose is to treat of the sacra- 
ment of man's redemption. The work of creation was completed 
in six days, the work of restoration in six ages. The latter work 
we define as the Incarnation of the Word and what in and through 
the flesh the Word performed, with all His sacraments, both those 
which from the beginning prefigured the Incarnation and those 
which follow to declare and preach it till the end." 

It is unnecessary to follow Hugo through the discussion, 
upon which he now enters, of the will, knowledge, and 
power of the Trinity, or through his consideration of the 
knowledge which man may have of God. In Part V. of 
the first Book, he considers the creation of angels, their 
qualities and nature, and the reasons why a part of them 
fell. With Part VI. the creation of man is reached, which 
Hugo shows to have been causally prior, though later in 
time, to the creation of the world which God made for man. 
From love God created rational creatures, the angels purely 
spiritual, and man a spirit clothed with earth. ^ Hugo 

1 God is perfect and utterly good. His beatitude cannot be increased or 
diminished, but it can be imparted. Therefore the primal cause for creating 
rational creatures was God's wish that there should be partakers of His beatitude. 
This reasoning may be Christian ; but it is also close to the doctrine of Plato's 
Timaeus, which Hugo had read. 


considers the corporeal as well as the spiritual nature and 
qualities of man, and his condition before the Fall. The 
seventh Part is devoted to the Fall itself, and discusses its 
character and sinfulness. 

At length, in the eighth Part, Hugo reaches the true 
subject of his treatise, the restoration of man. Man's first 
sin of pride was followed by a triple punishment, consisting 
in a penalty and two entailed defects, the penalty being 
bodily mortality, the defects carnal concupiscence and 
mental ignorance. 

" Regarding his reparation three matters are to be considered, 
the time, the place, the remedy. The time is the present life, 
from the beginning to the end of the world. The place is this 
world. ^ The remedy is threefold, and consists in faith, the 
sacraments, and good works. Long is the time, that man may 
not be taken unprepared. Hard is the place, that the trans- 
gressor may be castigated. Efficacious is the remedy, that the 
sick one may be healed." 

Hugo then sets forth the situation, the case in court as 
it were, to which God, the devil, and man, are the three 
parties. In this trial 

"... the devil is convicted of an injury to God in that he 
seduced God's servant by fraud and holds him by violence. Man 
also is convicted of an injury to God in that he despised His 
command and wickedly gave himself to evil servitude. Likewise 
the devil is convicted of an injury toward man, in first deceiving 
him and then bringing evil upon him. The devil holds man 
unjustly, though man is justly held." 

Since the devil's case against man was unjust, man 
might defeat his lordship ; but he needed an advocate 
(patronus), which could be only God. God, angry at man's 
sin, did not wish to undertake man's cause. He must be 
placated ; and man had no equivalent to offer for the injury 
he had done Him ; for he had deserted God when rational 
and innocent, and could deliver himself back to God, only as 
an irrational and sinful creature. Therefore, in order that 

1 Hugo also takes a wider view of the " place " of mankind's restoration, 
and finds that it includes (i) heaven, where the good are confirmed and made 
perfect ; (2) hell, where the bad receive their deserts ; (3) the fire of purgatory, 
where there is correction and perfecting ; (4) paradise the place of good beginnings ; 
and (5) the world, the place of pilgrimage for those who need restoring. 


man might have wherewithal to placate God, God through 
mercy gave man a man whom man might give in place of 
him who had sinned. God became man for man and as 
man gave himself for man. Thus He who had been man's 
Creator became also his Redeemer. God might have 
redeemed man in some other way, but took the way of 
human nature as best suited to man's weakness. 

After our first parent had been exiled from Paradise for 
his sin, the devil possessed him violently. But God's 
providence tempered justice with mercy, and from the 
penalty itself prepared a remedy. 

" He set for man as a sign the sacraments of his salvation, in 
order that whoever would apprehend them with right faith and 
firm hope, might, though under the yoke, have some fellowship 
with freedom. He set His edict informing and instructing man, 
so that whoever should elect to expect a saviour, should prove his 
vow of election in observance of the sacraments. The devil also 
set his sacraments, that he might know and possess his own more 
surely. The human race was at once divided into opposite 
parties, some accepting the devil's sacraments and some the 
sacraments of Christ. . . . Hence it is clear, that from the 
beginning there were Christians in fact, if not in name." 

Hugo proceeds to show that the time of the institution 
of the sacraments began when our first parent, expelled from 
Paradise, was subjected to the exile of this mortal life, with 
all his posterity until the end. 

" As soon as man had fallen from his first state of incorruption, 
he began to be sick, in body through his mortality, in mind 
through his iniquity. Forthwith God prepared the medicine of 
his reparation through His sacraments. In divers times and 
places God presented these for man's healing, as reason and the 
cause demanded, some of them before the Law, some under the 
Law and some under grace. Though different in form they had the 
one effect and accomplished the one health. If any one inquires 
the period of their appointment he may know that as long as there is 
disease so long is the time of the medicine. The present life, from 
the beginning to the end of the world, is the time of sickness and the 
time of the remedy. When a sacrament has fulfilled its time it 
ceases, and others take its place, to bring about that same health. 
These in turn have been succeeded at last by others, which are 
not to be superseded." 



Having followed Hugo's plan thus far, one sees why it is 
only at the commencement of the ninth Part of his first Book 
that he reaches the definition and discussion of those final 
and enduring sacraments which followed the Incarnation. 
He has hitherto been developing his theme, and now takes up 
its very essence. Laying out the matter scholastically, he 
says " there are four things to consider : first, what is a 
sacrament ; second, why they were instituted ; third, what 
may be the material of each sacrament, in which it is made 
and sanctified ; and fourth, how many sacraments there are. 
This is the definition, cause, material, and classification." 

Proceeding to the definition, he says that the doctors 
have briefly described a sacrament as the token of the sacred 
substance {sacrae rei signum). 

" For as there is body and soul in man, and in Scripture the 
letter and the sense, so in every sacrament there is the visible 
external which may be handled and the invisible within, which is 
believed and taught. The material external is the sacrament, 
and the invisible and spiritual is the sacrament's substance {res) 
or virtus. The external is handled and sanctified ; that is the 
signum of the spiritual grace, which is the sacrament's res and is 
invisibly apprehended." 

Having thus explained the old definition, Hugo objects 
to it on the ground that not every signum rei sacrae is a 
sacrament ; the letters of the sacred text and the pictures of 
holy things are signa rei sacrae, and yet are not sacraments. 
He therefore offers the following definition as adequate : 

" The sacrament is the corporeal or material element set out 
sensibly, representing from its similitude, signifying from its 
institution, and containing from its sanctification, some invisible 
and spiritual grace." ^ 

This, he maintains, is a perfect definition, since all sacra- 
ments possess these three qualities, and whatever lacks them 
cannot properly be called a sacrament. As an example 
he instances the baptismal water : 

1 " Sacramentum est corporale vel materiale elementum foris sensibiliter 
propositum ex similitudine repraesentans, et ex institutione significans, et ex 
sanctificatione continens aliquam invisibilem et spiritalem gratiam " (pars ix. 2 ; 
Migne 176, col. 317). In spite of Hugo the old definition held its ground, being 
adopted by Peter Lombard and others after him. 


" There is the visible element of water, which is the sacrament ; 
and these three are found in one : representation from simihtude, 
significance from appointment, virtue from sanctification. The 
similitude is from creation, the appointment from dispensation, 
the sanctification from benediction. The first is imparted to it 
through the Creator, the second is added through the Saviour, 
the third is given through the administrator." ^ 

Passing to the second consideration, Hugo finds that the 
sacraments were instituted with threefold purpose, for man's 
humiliation, instruction, and discipline or exercise. The 
man contemning them cannot be saved. Yet God has saved 
many without them, as Jeremiah was sanctified in the womb, 
and John the Baptist, and those who were righteous under 
the natural law. " For those who under the natural law 
possessed the substance {res) of the sacrament in right faith 
and charity, did not to their damnation lack the sacrament." 
And Hugo warns whoever might take a narrower view, to 
beware lest in honouring God's sacraments. His power and 
goodness be made of no avail. " Dost thou tell me that he 
who has not the sacraments of God cannot be saved ? I tell 
thee that he who has the virtue of the sacraments of God 
cannot perish. Which is greater, the sacrament or the 
virtue of the sacrament — water or faith ? If thou wouldst 
speak truly, answer, ' faith.' " One notes that the twelfth 
century had its broad-mindedness, as well as the twentieth. 

While passing on discursively to consider the classifica- 
tion of the sacraments, Hugo considers many matters,^ and 
then opens his treatment of the sacraments of the natural 
law with a recapitulation : 

" The sacraments from the beginning were instituted for the 
restoration and healing of man, some under the natural law, 

^ Here we see clearly that the works of the Creation have the sacramental 
quality of similitude and, in a way, the quality of institution, since their 
similitude to spiritual things was intended by the Creator for the instruction of 
man. They lack, however, the third quaUty of sanctification, which enables the 
material signum to convey its spiritual res. 

^ E.g. the material of the sacrament, which may consist in things, as in bread 
and wine, or in actions (as in making the sign of the cross), or in words, as in 
the invocation of the Trinity. He also shows how faith itself may be regarded 
as a sacrament, inasmuch as it is that whereby we now see in a glass darkly and 
behold but an image. But we shall hereafter see clearly through contemplation. 
Faith then is the image, i.e. the sacrament, of the futiure contemplation which is 
the sacrament's real verity, the res. 


some under the written law, and others under grace. Those 
which are later in time will be found more worthy means of 
spiritual grace. For all those sacraments of the former time, 
under the natural or the written law, were signs and figures of those 
now appointed under grace. The spiritual effect of the former 
in their time was wrought through the virtue and sanctification 
drawn from the latter. If any one therefore would deny that 
those prior sacraments were effectual for sanctification, he does 
not seem to me to judge aright." ^ 

The sacraments of the natural law were as the umbra 
veritatis ; those of the written law as the imago vel figura 
veritatis ; but those under grace are the corpus veritatis.^ 
The written law, though given fully only through Moses, 
began with Abraham, upon whom circumcision was enjoined 
as a sacrament and sign of separation from the heathen 
peoples. In obedience to its precepts lies the merit, in its 
promises lies the reward, while its sacraments aid men to 
fulfil its precepts and obtain its reward. Hugo discusses the 
sacraments of circumcision and burnt-offerings which were 
necessary for the remission of sins ; then those which 
exercised the faithful people in devotion — the peace-offering 
is an example ; and again those which aided the people to 
cultivate piety, as the tabernacle and its utensils. 

Hugo's second Book, which makes the second half of his 
work, is devoted to the " time of grace " inaugurated by the 
Incarnation. It treats in detail the Christian sacraments 
and other topics of the Faith, down to the Last Judgment, 
when the wicked are cast into hell, and the blessed enter 
upon eternal life, where God will be seen eternally, praised 
without weariness, and loved without satiety. This blessed 
lot flows from the grace of the salvation brought by Christ, 
and is dependent on the sacraments, the enduring means of 
grace. On their part, the sacraments, whatever more they 
are, are symbols, in essence and function connected with the 

1 De sacr. lib. i. pars xi. cap. i. The sacraments of the natural law 
included tithes, oblations, and sacrifices. Hugo also considers the good works 
which the natural law prescribed. This period ceases with the written law given 
implicitly through Abraham and explicitly through Moses. See De sacr. lib. i. 
pars xii. cap. i. Hugo appears to me to vary his point of view regarding the 
natural law and its time, for sometimes he regards it as the law prevailing till the 
time of Abraham or Moses, and again as the law under which pagan peoples 
lived, who did not know the Mosaic law. 

2 De sacr. lib. i. pars xi. cap. 6 (Migne 176, col. 346). 


symbolical nature of God's creation, with the prefigurative 
significance of the fortunes of God's chosen people until the 
coming of Christ, with the import and symbolism of Christ's 
life and teachings, and with the symbolism inherent in 
the organization and building up of Christ's holy Church. 
Symbolism and allegory are made part of the constitution 
of the world and man ; they connect man's body and 
environment with his spirit, and link the life of this world 
with the life to come. Hugo has thus grounded and 
established symbolism in the purposes of God, in the 
universal scheme of things, and in the nature and destinies 
of man.^ 

1 Whoever should wish for further illustration of Hugo's allegorical methods 
may examine his treatises entitled De area Noe morali and De area Noe mystica 
(Migne 176, col. 618-702), where every detail of the Ark, which signifies the 
Church, is allegorically applied to the Christian scheme of life and salvation. 
With these treatises, Hugo's De vanitate mundi (Migne 176, col. 703-740) is con- 
nected. They will be referred to when considering Hugo's position in mediaeval 
philosophy, post, Chapter XXXVIL, 11. 



II. The Hymns of Adam of St. Victor and the Anticlaudi- 


Under sanction of Scriptural interpretation and the sacra- 
ments, allegory and symbolism became accepted principles 
of spiritual verity, sources of political argument, and modes 
of transcendental truth. They penetrated the Liturgy, 
charging every sentence and ceremonial act with saving 
significance and power ; and as plastic influences they 
imparted form and matter to religious art and poetry, where 
they had indeed been potent from the beginning. 

In the early Church the office of the Mass, the ordination 
of priests, and the dedication of churches were not charged 
with the elaborate symbolism carried by these ceremonies in 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries,^ when the Liturgy, or 
speaking more specifically, the Mass, had become symbolical 
from the introit to the last benediction ; and Gothic sculpture 
and glass painting, which were the visible illustration of 
the Mass, had been impressed with corresponding allegory. 
Mediaeval liturgic lore is summed up by Guilelmus Durandus 
in his Rationale divinorum officiorum, which was composed in 
the latter part of the thirteenth century, and contains much 
that is mirrored in the art of the French cathedrals. It is 

1 See Duchesne, Origines du culte Chretien. 



impossible to review the elaborate symbolical significance of 
the Mass as set forth in the authoritative work of one who 
was a bishop, theologian, jurist, and papal regent.^ But a 
little of it may be given. 

The office of the Mass, says Durandus, is devised with 
great forethought, so as to contain the major part of what 
was accomplished by and in Christ from the time when He 
descended from heaven to the time when He ascended into 
heaven. In the sacrifice of the Mass all the sacrifices of the 
Ancient Law are represented and superseded. It may be 
celebrated at the third hour, because then, according to 
Mark, Christ ascended the cross, and at that hour also the 
Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in tongues of fire ; 
or at the sixth hour, when, according to Matthew, Christ 
was crucified ; or at the ninth hour, when on the cross He 
gave up His spirit. 

The first part of the Mass begins with the introit. Its 
antiphonal chanting signifies the aspirations and deeds, the 
prayers and praises of the patriarchs and prophets who were 
looking for the coming of the Son of God. The chorus of 
chanting clergy represents this yearning multitude of saints 
of the Ancient Law. The bishop, clad in his sacred vest- 
ments,^ at the end of the procession, emerging from the 
sacristy and advancing to the altar, represents Christ, 
the expected of the nations, emerging from the Virgin's 
womb and entering the world, even as the Spouse from 
His secret chamber. The seven lights borne before him 
on the chief festivals are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit 
descending upon the head of Christ. The two acolytes 
preceding him signify the Law and the Prophets, shown in 
Moses and Elias who appeared with Christ on Mount Tabor. 
The four who bear the canopy are the four evangelists, 
declaring the Gospel. The bishop takes his seat and lays 
aside his mitre. He is silent, as was Christ during His early 

^ See the epitaph from his tomb in S. Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, given 
by Savigny, Geschichte des Romischen Rechts, v. 571 sqq., who also gives a sketch 
of his life. With the work of Durandus, the Gemma animae of Honorius of Autun 
(Books I. II. III. ; Migne 172, col. 541 sqq.) should be compared, as marking a 
somewhat earlier stage in the interpretation of the Liturgy. It also gives the 
symbolism of the church and its parts, its ministers, and services. 

* Every article worn or borne by the bishop (or celebrating priest) has 
symbolic significance. 


years. The Book of the Gospels hes closed before him. 
Around him in the company of clergy are represented the 
Magi and others. 

The services proceed, every word and act filled with 
symbolic import. The reading of the Epistle is reached — 
that is the preaching of John the Baptist, who preaches only 
to the Jews ; so the reader turns to the north, the region of 
the Ancient Law. The reading ended, he bows before the 
bishop, as the Baptist humbled himself before Christ. 

After the Epistle comes the Gradual or responsorium, 
which relates to penitence and the works of the active life. 
The Baptist is still the main figure, until the solemn moment 
when the Gospel is read, which signifies the beginning of 
Christ's preaching. The Creed follows the Gospel, as faith 
follows the preaching of the truth. Its twelve parts refer to 
the calling of the twelve apostles. Then the bishop begins 
his sermon ; that is to say, after the calling of the Twelve, 
the Word of God is preached to the people, and it henceforth 
behoves the Church to hold fast to the Creed which has 
just been recited.^ 

The authoritative allegorizing of the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries extended the symbolism of the Mass to the edifice 
in which it was celebrated ; as the Rationale sets forth in its 
opening chapter entitled " De ecclesia et eius partibus." 
There it is shown that the corporeal church is the edifice, 
while the Church, spiritually taken, signifies the faithful 
people drawn together from all sorts of men as the edifice 
is constructed of all sorts of stones. The various names 
ecclesia, synagogue, basilica, and tabernacle are explained ; 
and then why the Church is called the Body of Christ, and 
also Virgin, also Spouse, Mother, Daughter, Widow, and 
indeed Meretrix, as it shuts its bosom against no one seeking 
it. The form of the church conforms to that of Solomon's 
temple, in the anterior part of which the people heard and 
prayed, while the clergy prayed and preached, gave thanks 
and ministered, in the sanctuary or sacred place. Solomon's 
temple in turn was modelled on the Tabernacle of the 

^ All this (which is taken from Book IV. of the Rationale) is but the first 
part of the Mass. The maze of symbolism increases in vastness and intricacy as 
the ofiice proceeds. 


Exodus, which, because it was constructed on a journey, is 
the type of the world which passes away and the lust thereof. 
It was made with the four colours of the arch of heaven, as 
the world consists of the four elements. Since God is in the 
world, He is in the tabernacle (which also means the Church 
militant) and in the midst of the faithful congregation. The 
anterior part of the tabernacle, where the people sacrificed, is 
also the Vita activa, in which the laity labour in neighbourly 
love ; and the portion where the Levites ministered is the 
Vita contemplativa. 

The church should be erected in the following manner : 
the place of its foundation should be made ready — well- 
founded is the house of the Lord upon a rock — and the 
bishop or licensed priest should sprinkle it with holy water 
to dispel the demons, and should lay the first stone, on which 
should be carved a cross. The head of the church, that is 
the chancel, should be set toward the rising sun at the time 
of the equinox. Now if the Jews were commanded to build 
walls for Jerusalem, how much more ought we to build the 
walls of our churches ? The material church signifies the 
Holy Church built of living stones in heaven, with Christ the 
corner-stone, upon which are set the foundations of Apostles 
and Prophets. The walls above are the Jews and Gentiles, 
who believing come to Christ from the four quarters of the 
world. The faithful people predestined to life are the stones 

The mortar in which the stones are set is made of lime, 
sand, and water. Lime is fervent love, which takes to itself 
the sand, that is, earthly toil ; then water, which is the Spirit, 
unites the lime and sand. As the stones of the wall would 
have no stability without the mortar, so men cannot be set 
in the walls of the heavenly Jerusalem without love, which 
the Holy Spirit brings. The stones of the wall are hewn 
and squared, which means sanctified and made clean. Some 
stones are borne, but do not themselves bear any burden, 
and these are the feeble in the Church. Other stones are 
borne, yet also bear ; while still others bear, but are not 
borne, save by Christ alone, the one foundation ; and the 
last are the perfect. 

The Jews were subject to hostile attack while building 


the walls of Jerusalem,^ so that with one hand they set 
stones, while they fought with the other. Likewise are we 
surrounded by hostile vices as we build the walls of the 
Church ; but we oppose them with the shield of faith and 
the breastplate of righteousness, and the sword of the Word 
of God in our hands. 

The church edifice is disposed like the human body. 
The chancel, where the altar is, represents the head, and the 
cross (transept) the arms and hands. The western portion 
(nave and aisles) is the rest of the body. But indeed 
Richard of St. Victor deems that the three parts of the 
edifice represent in order of sanctity, first the virgins, then 
the continent, and lastly married people. 

Again, the Church is built with four walls ; that is, by 
the teaching of the four evangelists it rises broad and high 
into the altitude of the virtues. Its length is the long- 
suffering with which it endures adversity ; its breadth is 
love, with which it embraces its friends in God, and loves its 
enemies for His sake ; its height is the hope of future reward. 
Again, in God's temple the foundation is faith, which is as 
to what is not seen ; the roof is charity, which covers a 
multitude of sins. The door is obedience — keep the com- 
mandments if thou wilt enter into life.^ The pavement is 
humility. The four walls are the four virtues, righteousness, 
{justitia) , fortitude, prudence, and temperance. The windows 
are glad hospitality and free-handed pity. 

Some churches are cruciform, to teach us that we are 
crucified to the world, or should follow the Crucified. Some 
are circular, which signifies that the Church is spread through 
the circle of the world. 

The apse signifies the faithful laity ; the crypts, the 
hermits. The nave signifies Christ, through whom lies the 
way to the heavenly Jerusalem ; the towers are the preachers 
and prelates, and the pinnacles represent the prelates' minds 
which soar on high. Also a weather-cock on top of the 
church signifies the preachers, who rouse the sleeping from 
the night of sin, and turning ever to the wind, resist the 
rebellious. The iron rod upholding the cock is the preacher's 
sermon ; and because this rod is placed above the cross on 

1 Neh. iv. ^ Matt. xix. 17. 


the church, it indicates the word of God finished and con- 
firmed, as Christ said in His passion, " It is finished." The 
lofty dome on which the cross is set, signifies how perfect 
and inviolate should be the preaching and observance of the 
Catholic Faith. 

The glass windows of the church are the divine 
Scriptures, which repel the wind and rain, but admit the 
light of the true sun, to wit God, into the church, that is, 
into the hearts of the faithful. The windows also signify 
the five senses of the body.^ 

The door of the church (again) is Christ — " I am the 
Door " ; the doors are also the Apostles. The pillars are the 
bishops and doctors ; their bases are the apostolic bishops ; 
their capitals are the minds of the doctors and bishops. 
The pavement is the foundation of faith, and also signifies 
the " poor in spirit," also the common crowd by whose 
labours the church is upheld. The rafters are the princes 
and preachers in the world, who defend the church by deed 
and word. The seats in a church are the contemplative in 
whom God rests without offence. The panels in the ceiling 
are also preachers who adorn and strengthen. 

The chancel, the head of the church, by being lower 
than the rest, indicates how great should be the humility of 
the clergy. The screens by which the altar is separated 
from the choir signify the separation of heavenly beings 
from things of earth. The choir stalls indicate the body's 
need of recreation. The pulpit is the life of the perfect. 
The horologe signifies the diligence with which the priests 
should say the canonical hours. The tiles of the roof are 
the knights who protect the church from pagans. The 
spiral stairways concealed within the walls are the secret 
knowledge had only by those who ascend to the heavenly 
places. The sacristy, where the holy utensils are kept and 
the priest puts on his vestments, signifies the womb of the 
most holy Virgin, in which Christ put on His sacred garb of 
flesh. From thence the priest emerges before the public, 
as Christ went forth from the Virgin's womb into the world. 
The lamp signifies Christ, who is the light of the world ; 

1 Many parts of the church have more than one significance. The windows 
were said before to represent hospitality and pity. 


or the lamps signify the Apostles and other doctors, whose 
doctrine lights the church. Moses also made seven lights, 
which are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

Durandus next devotes a whole chapter to the symbolism 
of the altar, and another to the significance and function of 
ornaments, pictures, and sculpture. The latter opens with 
the words : " The pictures and ornaments in a church are 
the texts and scriptures {lectiones et scripturae) of the laity." 
This chapter is long ; if explains how Christ and the angels, 
also saints. Apostles and others, should be represented, and 
describes the proper kinds of church ornament and utensils. 
Much of the detail is symbolical. 

Thus Durandus devised or brought together meanings 
to fit each bit of the church edifice, its materials and furnish- 
ings. In the work of a contemporary are stored the alle- 
gorical meanings of the subjects of Gothic sculpture and 
painted glass. The thirteenth century had a weakness for 
the word " Speculum," and the idea it carried of a mirror 
or compendium of all human knowledge. The chief of 
mediaeval encyclopaedists was Vincent of Beauvais, a 
protege of the saintly King Louis IX. An analysis of his 
huge Speculum majus is given elsewhere.^ It was made up 
of the Mirror of Nature, the Mirror of human Knowledge and 
Ethics, and the Mirror of History. The compiler and his 
assistants laboured during the best period of Gothic art, 
and from their work, industry may draw an exhaustive 
commentary upon the series of topics presented by the 
sculpture and glass of a cathedral.^ 

The Mirror of Nature appears carved in the sculpture 
of Chartres or Bourges. In rendering the work of the Six 
Days, the Creator is shown (under the form of Christ) ^ con- 

1 Post, Chapter XXXVI., i. 

2 The application of Vincent's work to the sculpture and painting of a Gothic 
cathedral is due to Didron, Iconographie chretienne, histoire de Dieu, Introduction 
(1843). Other writers have followed him, like jfemile Male in his UArt religieux 
du XIII^ Steele en France (2nd ed., Paris, 1902), to which the present writer is 
much indebted. It goes without saying, that the soiurces from which Vincent 
drew (e.g. the works of Albertus Magnus) likewise form a commentary upon the 
subjects of Gothic glass and sculpture, and may even have suggested the manner 
of their presentation. 

^ The opening verses of St. John's Gospel account for this. Christ, or God in 
the person of Christ, is shown in Old Testament scenes as early as the fourth 
century upon sarcophagi in the Lateran at Rome. 


templating His work, or resting from His toil ; here and 
there a Hon, sheep, or goat, suggests the animal creation, 
and a few trees the vegetable world. This is the necessary 
symbolism of the sculptor's art. But Gothic animals and 
plants sometimes have other definite symbolic meanings, 
as in the instance of the well-known signs of the four 
Evangelists, the man, the lion, the ox, the eagle. The 
allegorical interpretations of Scripture were an exhaustless 
source of symbolism for Gothic sculptors ; another was the 
Physiologus and its progeny of Bestiaries, with their symbolic 
explanations of the legendary attributes of animals. In- 
tentional symbolism, however, did not inhere in all this 
carving, much of which is sheer fancy and decoration. Such 
was the character of the splendid Gothic flora, of the birds 
and beasts that move in it, and of the grotesque monsters. 
They were not out of place, since the Gothic cathedral was 
itself a Speculum or Summa, and should include the whole 
of God's creation, not omitting even the devils who beset 
men's souls. 

Vincent may have drawn from Hugo of St. Victor the 
current doctrine that the arts have part in the work of man's 
restoration ; a doctrine abundantly justifying the presence of 
the sciences and crafts (composing the Mirror of Knowledge) 
in the sculpture and painting of the cathedral. There the 
Seven Liberal Arts are rendered, through allegorical figures ; 
and the months of the year are symbolized in the Zodiac 
and the labours of the field which make up man's annual 
toil. Philosophy is shown and Fortune's wheel ; the Virtues 
and Vices are represented in personifications, and even their 
conflict, the Psychomachia, may be shown. 

At last the Mirror of History is reached. This will 
teach in concrete examples what has been learned from the 
figures of the abstract Virtues and Vices. Its chief source 
is the Bible. Those Old Testament incidents were selected 
which for centuries had been interpreted as prefigurements 
of the life of Christ ; and each was presented as a pendant 
to the Gospel scene which it typified. These make the 
chief subjects of the coloured glass of Chartres and Bourges 
and other cathedrals where the windows are preserved. 
Here may be seen the Passion of Christ, surrounded by 


scenes from the Old Testament typifying it ; likewise His 
Resurrection and its ancient types ; and other significant 
incidents in the life of the Saviour and His virgin mother.^ 
The latter is typified by the burning bush, by the fleece of 
Gideon, by the rod of Aaron, even as in the hymns of Adam 
qi Saint- Victor.^ Besides these incidents, leading personages 
of the old Testament are presented as prefigurative of 
Christ, as in the great series of statues of Melchizedek, 
Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, on the north portal of 
Chartres ; while the four greater and twelve minor prophets 
are shown as types of the four Evangelists and the twelve 
Apostles. Christ himself is depicted on a window at St. 
Denis, between the allegorical figures of the Ancient Law 
and the Gospel, — figures which are allied to those of the 
uncrowned and blinded Synagogue and the triumphant 
Church, so frequently seen together upon cathedrals. Every- 
where the tendency to symbolize is strong. Parts of the 
Crucifixion scene are rendered symbolically, and many of the 
parables. That of the Good Samaritan constantly appears 
upon the windows, and is always designed so as to convey 
the allegorical teaching drawn from it in Honorius's sermon.^ 
Obviously this Mirror of History was chiefly sacred 
history. Pagan antiquity was scantily suggested by the 
Sibyls, who stand for the dumb pagan prophecy of Christ. 
Scenes from the history of Christian nations were more 
frequent ; but they always told of some victory for Christ, 
like the baptism of Clovis, or the crusading deeds of Charle- 
magne, Roland, or Godfrey of Bouillon. God's drama closed 
with the Last Judgment, the damnation of the damned and 
the beatitude of the elect. The Last Judgments, usually 
over- arching the tympanums above cathedral doors, are 
known to all — as at Rheims, at Chartres, at Bourges. They 
are full of symbolism, and full of " historic " reality as well. 
The treatment becomes entirely allegorical when the sculptor 
enters Paradise with the redeemed, and portrays in lovely 
personifications the beatitudes of the blessed, as on the north 
portal of Chartres. 

^ These subjects illustrated the series of events celebrated in the calendar of 
church services. 

* Post, pp. 112 sqq. ^ Ante, Chapter XXVIII. 


Those bands of nameless men who carved the statues 
and designed the coloured glass which were to make Gothic 
cathedrals speak, faithfully presented the teachings of the 
Church, They rendered the sacred drama of mankind's 
creation, fall, redemption, and final judgment unto hell or 
heaven : they rendered it in all its dogmatic symbolism, 
and with a plastic adequacy showing how completely they 
thought and felt in the allegorical medium in which they 
worked. They also created matchless ideals of symbolism 
in art. The statuary of the portals and fagades of Rheims 
and Chartres are in their way comparable to the sculptures 
of the pediment of the Parthenon. But unlike those master- 
pieces of antique idealism, these Christian masterpieces do 
not seek to set forth mortal man in his natural strength 
and beauty and completeness. Rather they seek to show 
the working of the human spirit held within the power and 
grace of God. Theirs is not the strength and beauty of the 
flesh, or the excellence of the unconquerable mind of man ; 
but in them man's mind and spirit are palpably the devout 
creatures of God's omnipotence, obedient to His will, 
sustained and redeemed by His power and grace. Attitude, 
form, feature, alike designed to express the sacred beauty of 
the soul, are not invested with physical excellence for its 
own sake ; but every physical quality of these statues is a 
symbol of some holy and beautiful quality of spirit. These 
statues attain a symbolic, and not a natural, ideal in art. 
Yet many of them possess the physical beauty of form and 
feature, inasmuch as such may be the proper envelope for 
the chaste and eager soul.^ 

On the other hand, in the filling out of the illustrative 
detail of life on earth, of handicraft and art, the sculptor 
showed how he could carve these actualities, and present 
earth's beauty in the cathedral's wealth of vine and flower 
and leaf. The level commonplace of humanity is deitly 
rendered, the daily doings of the forge and field and market- 
place, the tugging labourer, the merchant with his stuffs, the 

^ So the composition and the arrangement of topics in the cathedral sculpture 
and glass have scarcely the excellence of natural grouping. The arrangement is 
intended to illustrate the series of successive acts making up God's own artist- 
composition, itself symbolical of His purpose in the creation and redemption of 


scholar with his scrolls. He knew life well, this artist, and 
had an eye for every catching scene, also for Nature's subtle 
beauties. Sometimes a certain passing show was represented 
because a window was given by some drapers' guild, desirous 
of seeing its craft shown in a place of honour ; and the 
artist loved his scenes from busy life, as he loved his 
ornament from Nature. Such scenes (which rarely held 
specific allegory) were not unconnected with the rest of the 
drama of creation and redemption mirrored in the cathedral, 
nor was the exquisitely cut leaf and rose without its sugges- 
tion of the grace incarnate in the Virgin and her Son. Daily 
life and natural ornament had at least an illustrative 
pertinency to the whole, of which they were unobtrusive and 
lovely elements ; and since that whole was primarily a 
visible symbol of the unseen and divine power, these humble 
elements had part in its unutterable mystery, and were 
likewise symbols. 

Finally, have not these nameless artists — even as Dante 
and our English Bunyan — presented by their art a synthesis 
of life's realities ? Their feet were on the earth ; with 
sympathy and knowledge their hands worked in the media 
of things seen and handled, and fashioned the little human 
matters which are bounded by the cradle and the grave. 
Such were the materials from which Dante formed his 
Commedia, and Bunyan drew the Progress of his Pilgrim 
soul to God. Yet as with Bunyan and Dante, so with 
these artists in stone and coloured light, the mortal and 
the tangible were but the elements through which the poem 
or story, or the carved or painted picture, was made the 
realizing symbol of the unseen and eternal Spirit. 


Beneath the Abbey Church of Saint-Victor there was a 
crypt consecrated to the Mother of God. Here a certain 
monk was wont to retire and compose hymns in her honour. 
One day his lips uttered the lines : 

" Salve, mater pietatis, 
Et totius Trinitatis 


Nobile triclinium ; 
Verbi tamen incarnati 
Speciale majestati 

Praeparans hospitium ! " 

Whereupon a flood of light filled the crypt, and the Virgin, 
appearing to him, inclined her head. 

The monk's name was Adam.^ and he is deemed the best 
of Latin hymn-writers. Breton bom, he entered Saint-Victor 
in his youth, about the year 1130. He was favoured with 
the instruction of Hugo till the master's death in 1141. 
Adam must have been of nearly the same age as Richard of 
Saint-Victor, that other pupil of Hugo who makes the third 
member of the great Victorine trio. Their works have been 
the monastery's fairest fame. Hugo was a Saxon ; Adam 
a Breton ; Richard was Scotch. So Saint-Victor drew her 
brilliant sons from many lands. Richard, whose writings 
worthily supplemented those of his master Hugo,^ died in 
1173 ; his friend Adam outlived him, and died an old man 
as the twelfth century was closing. He was buried in the 
cloister, and over him was placed an elegiac epitaph upon 
human vanity and sin, in part his own composition. 

Adam's hymns were Sequences ^ intended for church use. 
Their author was learned in Christian doctrine, skilled in the 
Liturgy, and saturated with the spirit of devotional symbolism. 
His symbolism, which his gift of verse made into imagery, 
was that of the mediaeval church and its understanding of 
the Liturgy ; he also shows the special influence of Hugo. 
Adam's hymns, with their powerful Latin rhymes, cannot 
be reproduced in English ; but a translation may give the 
contents of their symbolism. The hymn for Easter, beginning 
" Zyma vetus expurgetur," * is an epitome of the symbolic 
prefiguration of Christ in the Old Testament. Each familiar 
allegorical interpretation flashes in a phrase. Literally 
translated, or rather maltreated, it is as follows : 

^ Adam's hymns are edited with notes and an introductory essay by L. Gautier, 
(Euvres poetiques d'Adam de S.-Victor (3rd ed., Paris, 1894). A number of his 
hymns will be found in Migne 196, col. 1422 sqq. ; and also in Clement's Carmina 
e poetis christianis excerpta. On Adam's verse see post, Chapter XXXIII., iii. 

* Dante draws much from Richard of St. Victor. 

* See post, Chapter XXXIII., in. 

* Gautier, o.c. p. 46 (Migne 196, col. 1437). 



" Let the old leaven be purged away that a new resurrection 
may be celebrated purely. This is the day of our hope ; wonder- 
ful is the power of this day by the testimony of the law. 

" This day despoiled Egypt, and liberated the Hebrews from 
the iron furnace ; for them in wretched straits the work of servi- 
tude was mud and brick and straw. ^ 

" Now as praise of divine virtue, of triumph, of salvation, let 
the voice break free ! This is the day which the Lord made, the 
day ending our grief, the day bringing salvation. 

" The Law is the shadow of things to come, Christ the goal of 
promises, who completes all. Christ's blood blunts the sword, 
the watch removed.^ 

" The Boy, type of our laughter, in whose stead the ram was 
slain, signifies life's joys.^ Joseph issues from the pit ; * Christ 
returns above after death's punishment. 

" This serpent devours the serpents of Pharaoh secure from 
the serpent's spite.^ Whom the fiery one wounded, them the 
brazen serpent's presence frees.^ 

" Christ, the hook and ring, pierces the dragon's jaw ; ' the 
weaned child puts his hand into the cockatrice's den, and the old 
tenant of the world flees affrighted.^ 

" The mockers of Elisha while he ascends the house of God, 
feel the bald-head's wrath ; ® David, feigning madness, the goat 
cast forth, and the sparrow escape.^" 

" With a jaw-bone Samson slays a thousand and spurns the 
marriage of his tribe. Samson bursts the bars of Gaza, and, 
carrying its gates, scales the mountain's crest. ^^ 

^ The Hebrews in bondage to the Egyptians are the symbol of all men in the 
bonds of sin. 

^ As Christ expires the cherubim at the gate of Eden lower the flaming sword, 
so that the men bathed with His blood may pass in. 

^ Isaac was always a type of Christ ; his name was interpreted laughter {tisus) 
from Gen. xxi. 6 : " And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all 
that hear will laugh with me." 

* Joseph another type of Christ. 

^ This serpent, i.e. Christ the rod of Aaron, safe from the devil's spite, consumes 
the false idols. 

® The Brazen Serpent, a type of Christ. Cf. John iii. 14. 

' Cf. Job xli. I. The hook (hanius) is Christ's divinity, whereby He pierces 
the devU's jaw. 

* Cf. Isa. xi. 8. The guiltless child is Christ, and the cockatrice is the devil. 
® The children who mocked Elisha represent the Jews mocking Christ as He 

ascended Calvary ; the bear is Vespasian and Titus who destroy Jerusalem. 

1" These again are types of Christ : David feigning madness among the Phihs- 
tines, I Sam. xxi. 12-15 ; the goat cast forth for the people's sins, Lev. xvi. 21, 22 ; 
and the sparrow in the rite of cleansing from leprosy, Lev. xiv. 2-7. 

^^ Samson a type of Christ, will not wed a woman of his tribe (Judges xiv. 
1-3) as Christ chooses the Gentiles ; Samson bursts open Gaza's gates as Christ 
the gates of death and hell. 


" So the strong Lion of Judah, shattering the gates of dreadful 
death, rises the third day ; at His Father's roaring voice, He 
carried aloft so many spoils to the bosom of the supernal mother. ^ 

" After three days the whale gives back from his belly's 
narrow house Jonas the fugitive, type of the true Jonas. The 
grape of Cyprus ^ blooms again, opens and grows apace. The 
synagogue's flower withers, while flourishes the Church.^ 

" Death and life fought together : truly Christ arose, and with 
Him many witnesses of glory. Let a new morn, a glad morn, 
wipe away the tears of evening : hfe has overcome destruction ; 
it is a time of joy. 

" Jesu victor, Jesu hfe, Jesu life's beaten way, thou whose 
death queUed death, bid us to the paschal board in trust. Live, 
O Bread, living Wave, O true and fruitful Vine, do thou feed 
us, do thou cleanse us, that thy grace may save us from the 
second death. Amen." 

From the time of that old third-century hymn ascribed 
to Clement of Alexandria,* hymns to Christ had been filled 
with symbolism, the " symbolism of loving personification 
of His attributes, as well as with the more formal symbolism 
of His Old Testament prefigurements. Adam's symbolism 
is of both kinds. It has feeling even when dogmatic,^ and 
throbs with devotion as its theme approaches the Gospel 
Christ. Prevailing modes of thought and feeling may 
prescribe topics for verse which a succeeding age will find 
curiously unpoetic. Yet if the later time have a sympathetic 
understanding for the past, it will recognize how fervid and 
how songful was that bygone verse — the verse of Adam's 
hymns, for instance. In one for Christmas Day, beginning : 
" Po testate, non natura. 
Fit Creator creatura," ^ 

^ The allusion here is to the statement of mediaeval Bestiaries that the lion 
cub, when born, lies lifeless for thfee days, till awakened by his father's roar. 
The supernal mother is the Chiurch triumphant. 

^ The body of Christ, i.e. the Church. 

' A topic everywhere represented in church windows and cathedral sculpture. 

* Printed at the end of his Paedagogus ; see Taylor, Classical Heritage of the 
Middle Ages, pp. 253-255, where it is translated. 

^ Although the dogmas of Christianity were formulated by reason, they were 
cradled in love and hate. Nowadays, in a time when dogmas are apt to be thought 
useless clogs to the spirit, it is well for the historically-minded to remember the 
power of emotional devotion which they have inspired in other times. 

* Gautier, CEuvres d'Adam (ist ed., vol. i. p. 11) ; Gautier (3rd ed., p. 269) 
doubts whether this hymn is Adam's. But for the purpose of illustrating the 
symbolism of the twelfth-century hymn, the question of authorship is not 


a stanza touches on the reason why the Creator thus became 
creature. It would be impossible to render its feeling in 
Enghsh, and much circumlocution would be needed to 
express' even its hteral meaning in any language but 
mediaeval Latin. This stanza has twelve lines : 

" Causam quaeris, modum rei : 
" Causa prius omnes rei. 

Modus justum velle Dei, 
Sed conditum gratia." 

" Thou askest causa and modus of the fact : the causa was 
that first all were guilty, the modus was God's righteous wiUing, 
but seasoned with grace." 

These hues are scholastic. In the next four, the feeling 
begins to rise, yet the phrases repel rather than attract us : 

" O quam dulce condimentum 
Nobis mutans in pigmentum, 
Cum aceto fel cruentum 
Degustante Messy a ! " 

" Oh ! how sweet the condiment changing for us into juice, 
as the Messiah tastes the bloody gall and vinegar." 

The feeling touches its climax with the four concluding 
lines— in which the parable of the Good Samaritan is in- 
vested with the special allegorical significance set forth in 
the sermon of Honorius : ^ 

" O salubre sacramentum, 
Quod nos ponit in jumentum 
Plagis nostris dans unguentum 
lUe de Samaria." 

" O health-giving sacrament which sets us on a beast, giving 
ointment for our stripes,— he of Samaria." ^ 

Two stanzas from another of Adam's Christmas hymns 

1 Ante, Chapter XXVIII. . ,, 

2 In these closing lines the " salubre sacramentum is m apposition to llle 
de Samaria "—i.e. the " sacramentum " is the Saviour, who is also typified by 
the Good Samaritan. In another hymn for Christmas, Adam speaks of the 
concurrence in one persona of Word, flesh, and spirit, and then uses the phrase 
" Tantae rei sacramentum " (Gautier, o.c. p. 5) • Here the sacramentum designates 
the visible human person of Christ, which was the life-giving signum or symbol 
of so great a marvel (tantae rei) as the Incarnation. Adam has Hugo's teachmg 
in mind, and the full significance of his phrase will appear by takmg it m con- 
nection with Hugo's definition of the Sacrament, ante, p. 98. 


will show how curiously intricate could be his symbolism. 
Having spoken of the ineffable wonder of the Incarnation, 
he proceeds : 

" Frondem, florem, nucem sicca 
Virga profert, et pudica 

Virgo Dei Filium. 
Fert coelestem vellus rorem, 
Creatura creatorem, 

Creaturae pretium. 

" Frondis, floris, nucis, roris 
Pietati Salvatoris 

Congruunt mysteria. 
Frons est Christus protegendo, 
Flos dulcore, nux pascendo, 
Ros coelesti gratia." ^ 

" A dry rod puts forth leafage, flower, nut,^ and a chaste 
Virgin brings forth the Son of God. A fleece bears heavenly 
dew,^ a creature the Creator, the creature's price. 

" The mysteries of leafage, flower, nut, dew are suited to the 
Saviour's tender love (pietas) . Christ by His protecting is foliage, 
by His sweetness is a flower, is a nut by His yielding food, and 
dew by His celestial grace." 

One observes that here the symbolism first touches 
Christ's birth, the dry rod and the fleece representing the 
Virgin. Then the leafage, flower, nut and dew typify His 
qualities. The remaining stanzas of this hymn carry out in 
further detail the symbolism of the nut. 

Besides the hymns devoted to the Saviour, the greater 
part of Adam's hymns are symbolical throughout. Those 
written for the dedication of churches are among the 
most interesting. One beginning " Quam dilecta taber- 
nacula " * sketches the Old Testament facts which prefigure 
Christ's holy Church. The keynote is in the lines : 

" Quam decora fundamenta 
Per concinna sacramenta 
Umbra praecurrentia ! " 

^ Gautier, o.c. p. lo. 

^ The reference is to Aaron's rod in Numbers xvii. 

' The reference is to Gideon's fleece, Judges vi. 37, which is a type of the 
Virgin Mary. 

* Gautier, o.c. ist ed., i. 155 (Migne 196, col. 1464). In his third edition, 
Gautier is doubtful of Adam's authorship of this hymn because of its irregular 


" How seemly the foundations through the appropriate sacra- 
ments, forerunning by the shadow." 

The shadow is the Old Testament, and these three lines sum 
up the teaching of Hugo as to the sacramental nature of 
the Old Testament narratives. Throughout this hymn 
Adam follows Hugo closely.^ In another dedicatory hymn ^ 
Adam gives the prefigurative meaning of the parts of 
Solomon's temple. There is likewise much symbolism 
in the grand hymns addressed to the Virgin, One for the 
festival of the Assumption ^ gives the figures of the Virgin 
in the Old Testament — ^the throne of Solomon, the fleece 
of Gideon, the burning bush. Then with more feeling the 
metaphorical epithets pour forth, voicing the heart's gratitude 
for the Virgin's saving aid to man. A still more splendid 
example of like symbolism and ardent metaphor is the great 
hymn beginning : 

" Salve mater Salvatoris, 
Vas electum, vas honoris," 

which won the Virgin's greeting for the poet.* 

The lives of Honorius, of Hugo, of Adam, from whose 
works we have been drawing illustrations of mediaeval 
symbolism, vie with each other in obscurity ; and properly 
enough since they were monks, for whom self-effacement is 
becoming. This personal obscurity culminates with one last 
example to be drawn from monastic sources. The man him- 
self was an impressive figure in his time ; a sight of him was 
not to be forgotten : he was called magnus and doctor 
universalis. Nevertheless it has been questioned whether he 
lived in the twelfth or the thirteenth century, and whether 
one man or two bore the name of Alanus de Insulis. 

There was in fact but one, and he belongs to the twelfth 
century, dying almost a centenarian, in the year 1202. The 
cognomen de Insulis has also been an enigma. From it he 
has been dubbed a Sicilian, and then a Scot, born on the 
island of Mona. But the name in reality refers to the chief 
town of Flariders, which is called Lisle ; and Alanus doubt- 
less was a Fleming. 

^ Cf. Gautier's notes to this hymn, Gautier, o.c. ist ed., i. 159-167. 
^ Gautier, o.c. i. 168. ^ Gautier, o.c. ii. 127. 

* Gautier, 3rd ed., p. 186. This is in Migne 196, col. 1502. 


He became a learned man, and lectured at Paris. That 
he was possessed with no small opinion of his talents would 
appear from the legend told of him as well as of St. 
Augustine. He had announced that on a certain day in 
a single lecture he would set forth the complete doctrine of 
the mystery of the most Holy Trinity. The afternoon before 
the day appointed, he walked by the river, thinking how he 
should arrange his subject so as to include it all. He 
chanced upon a child who was dipping up the river water 
with a snail shell and dropping it into a little trench. 
Smiling, he asked what should be the object of this ; and 
the child told him that he was putting the whole river into 
his trench. As the great scholar was explaining that this 
could not be done, he suddenly felt himself chidden and 
taught — how much less might he perform what he had set 
for the next morning. He stood speechless at his pre- 
sumption, and burst into tears. The next day ascending 
the platform he said to the crowd of auditors, " Let it suffice 
you to have seen Alanus " ; ^ and with that he left them all 
astonished, and himself hastily set out for Citeaux. On 
arrival he asked to be admitted as a conversus, and was 
given charge of the monastery's sheep. Patient and 
unknown, he long plied this humble vocation. But at 
length it chanced that the abbot took him to a council at 
Rome, in the capacity of hostler. And there he beat down 
the arrogance of a heretic with such arguments that the 
latter cried out that he was disputing either with the devil 
or Alanus, and would say no more. 

Such is one story. By another he is made to seek the 
monastery of Clairvaux, and there become a monk under 
St. Bernard. It is also written that he became an abbot, 
and then a bishop, but afterwards resigned his bishopric. 
However all this may have been, he died and was buried, 
and was subjected to many epitaphs. On what purports 
to be an old copy of his tomb at Citeaux, he is shown with 
St. Bernard, and called Alanus Magnus. The title Doctor 
universalis has always clung to his memory, which will not 
altogether fade. For if Adam of Saint- Victor was the 

^ A charlatan in Salimbene's Chronicle, ante, Chapter XXII., uses a like 


greatest of Latin mediaeval hymn-writers, Alanus has good 
claim to be called the greatest of mediaeval Latin poets in 
the field of didactic and narrative poetry.^ 

The many works ascribed to Alanus include an allegorical 
Commentary on Canticles, a treatise on the art of preaching, 
a book of sententiae, another of theologicae regulae, sundry 
sermons, and a lengthy work " contra haereticos " ; also a 
large dictionary of Biblical allegorical interpretations, entitled 
Liber in distinctionibus didionum theologicalium} All these 
are prose. He composed, besides, his Liber de plandu naturae ^ 
and his Antidaudianus , a learned and profound, and likewise 
highly imaginative allegorical poem upon man.* Its Preface 
in prose casts a curious light upon the author's enigmatical 
personality, which combined the wonted or conventional 
humility of a monk with the towering self-consciousness of 
a man of genius. 

" The lightning scorns to spend its force on twigs, but breaks 
the proud tops of exalted trees. The wind's imperious rage 
passes over the reed and drives the assaults of its wild blasts 
against the highest summits. Wherefore let not envy's flame 
strike the pinched humility of my work, nor detraction's breath 
overwhelm the driven poverty of my little book, where misery's 
wreck demands a port of pity, far more than felicity provokes 
the sting of spite." 

More sentences of turgid deprecation follow, and the 
author begs the reader not to approach his book with disgust 
and irritation, but with pleasant anticipations of novelty (not 
all a monk speaks here !). 

" For although the book may not bloom with the purple 
vestment of flowering speech, nor shine with the consteUated 
light of the flashing period, still in the tenuity of the fragile reed 

1 For the data as to Alanus see the Prolegomena to Migne, Pat. Lat. 210, 
which volume contains his works. See also Haureau, Mem. de Vacad. des in- 
scriptions et des belles lettres, tome 32 (1886), p. i, etc. ; also Hist. lit. de France, 
tome 16, p. 396, etc. On Alanus and his place in scholastic philosophy, see post, 
Chapter XXXVII., iii. 

* Migne 210, col. 686-1012. 

^ Migne 210, col. 431-481. See post, Chapter XXXIII., i. 

* The significance of the title is not quite clear. The poem is written in 
hexametre, and is not far from 4700 lines in length. It is printed in Migne 210, 
col. 486-576 ; also edited by Thos. Wright, Master of the Rolls Series, vol. 59, 
ii. {1872). 


the honey's sweetness may be found, and parched thirst can be 
tempered with the scant water of a rill. In this book let nothing 
be made vulgar (plebescat) with ribaldry, nor let anything be 
open to biting reproof, as if it smacked of the coarseness of the 
moderns [to whom does he refer ?] ; but let the flower of my 
talent be presented, and the dignity of diligence ; for pigmy 
humility, thus raised upon a height, may overtop the giant. 
Let not those dare to tire of this work, who are squalling in the 
cradles of elementary instruction, sucking milk from nurses' 
paps ; nor let those seek to cry it down, who are pledged to the 
service of the higher learning ; nor those presume to discredit it, 
who strike heaven with the exalted head of philosophy. For in 
this work, the sweetness of the literal meaning will tickle the 
puerile ear ; moral teaching wiU imbue the more proficient 
understanding ; and the finer subtilty of allegory will sharpen 
the finished intellect. Wherefore let all those be kept from 
ingress who, abandoned to the mirrors of the senses, are -not 
charioteered by reason, and, pursuing the sense-image, have no 
appetite for reason's truth, — lest indeed what is holy be defiled 
by dogs, and the pearl be trampled by the feet of swine. . . . 
But such as will not suffer the matter of their reason to rest 
among base images, and dare to lift their view to forms divine, 
may thread the narrow passes of my book, while they weigh with 
discretion's scales what is suited to the common ear, and what 
should be buried in silence." 

This Preface of strained sentence and laboured metaphor, 
of forced humility and overweening self-consciousness, hardly 
augurs well for the poem of which it is the prelude. But 
prefaces are authors' pitfalls, and, moreover, many writers 
have floundered in one medium of speech while in another 
they have moved with ease. From the ungainly prose of 
the Persones Tale, no one would expect the ease and force 
of Chaucer's verse. And the reader of Alanus's Preface 
need not be discouraged from entering upon his poem. Its 
subject is man ; its philosophic or religious purpose is to 
expound the functions of God, of Nature, of Fortune, of 
Virtue and Vice, in making man and shaping his career. 
The poem is an allegory, original in its general scheme of 
composition, but in many of its parts following earlier 
allegorical writings. 

The opening lines tell of Nature's solicitude to bestow 
her gifts so that the finished work may present a fair 


harmony : as a patient workman she forges, trims and files, 
and fashions with reason's chisel. But when she seeks to 
invest her work with qualities beyond her giving, she is 
obliged to call on the Celestial Council of her Sisters. 
Responding, pilgrim-like the Crown of Heaven's soldiery 
comes from on high, brightens the earth with its light, and 
clothes the ground with blessed footprints. 

Leading this galaxy. Concord advances, foster-child of 
Peace ; then Plenty comes, and Favour, and Youth with 
favour anointed, and Laughter, banisher of mental mists ; 
then Shame and Modesty, and Reason the measure of good, 
and Honesty, Reason's happy comrade ; then Dignity {decus) 
and Prudence balancing her scales, and Piety and true Faith, 
and Virtue. Last of all Nobility [nohilitas), in grace not 
quite the others' equal. ^ 

In the midst of a great wood blessed with fountains and 
multitudinous bird-song, a cloud-kissing mountain rose with 
level top. Nature's palace was erected here, gemmed and 
golden ; and within was a great hall hung upon bronze 
columns. Here the painter's art had rendered the ways of 
men, and inscriptions made plain the pictured story. " O 
new wonders of painting," exclaims the poet ; " what cannot 
be, comes into being ; and painting, the ape of truth, deluding 
with novel art, turns shadows to realities, and transforms 
particular falsehood into [general] truth." ^ There might be 
seen the power of logic pressing its arguments and conquering 
sophistry. There Aristotle was preparing his arms, and, 
more divinely, Plato mused on heaven's secrets. There 
Seneca moralized, and Ptolemy explained the stars in their 
times and courses. There spoke the word of TuUy, while 
Virgil's muse painted many lies, and put truth's garb on 
falsehood. There was also shown the might of Alcides and 
Ulysses' wisdom, Tumus's valour prodigal of life, and Hippo- 

^ The poem is highly imaginative in the delineation of its allegorical figures. 
^ These curious lines are as follows : 

" O nova picturae miracula, transit ad esse 
Quod nihil esse potest ! picturaque simia veri. 
Arte nova ludens, in res umbracula rerum 
Vertit, et in verum mendacia singula mutat." 

Anticlaudianus, i. cap. iv. 
(Migne 196, col. 491.) 


lytus's shame, undone by Venus's reins. ^ Such and many 
other tropes of things and dreams of truth, this royal art set 

Here, standing in the midst of her Council, Nature, with 
bowed head, spoke her solemn words : " Painfully I remake 
what my hand's solicitude has wrought. But the hand's 
penitence does not wipe out the flaws. The shortcomings 
of our works must be repaired by some perfect model, some 
man divine, not smelling of the earth and earthly, but whose 
mind shall hold to heaven while his body walks the earth. 
Let him be the mirror in which we may see what our faith, 
our potency, and virtue ought to be. As it is, our shame is 
over all the earth." 

When the Council had approved these words, Prudence 
arose in all her beauty. ^ She discoursed upon man's dual 
nature, spirit and body. Nature and her helpers may be 
the artificers of his mortal body, but the soul demands its 
heavenly Artificer, and laughs at our rude arts. God's 
wisdom alone can create the soul, as Prudence shows by an 
exposition of its qualities. 

Now Reason raised his reverend form, holding his triple 
glass in which appear the causes and effects and qualities of 
things. He humbly disclaimed the power to instruct 
Minerva,^ and applauded the plan by which a new Lucifer 
should sojourn in the world. May he unite all the gifts 
which they can bestow, and be their champion against the 
Vices. Now let their suppliant vows be sped to Him who 
alone can create the divine mind. A legate should be 
despatched above, bearing their request. For this office 
none is so fit as Prudence, to whom the secrets of Heaven 
are known, and whose energy and wisdom will surmount 
the difficulties of the way. 

Prudence at first refuses ; but Concordia rises, |the 
inspirer of chaste loves, she who knit the souls of David 
and Jonathan, Pirithous and Theseus, Nisus and Euryalus, 

^ The allusion here is to the fate of Hippolytus, whose chariot-horses, 
maddened by the wUes of Venus, dashed the chariot to pieces and caused their 
lord's death. 

* i. cap. vi. Her garb and attributes are elaborately told. In the latter 
part of the poem she is usually called Phronesis. 

^ A favourite commonplace ; Heloise uses it. 


Orestes and Pylades. Persuasively she speaks, and points 
out all the ills the world had suffered by disobedience to her 
behests. Prudence is won over to the task, and now wills 
only as her sisters will. She thinks upon the means and 
way. Wisdom orders a chariot to be made, in which the 
sea, the stars, the heavens may be traversed. Its artificers 
are her seven daughters, wise and fair, who unite the skill 
and knowledge of all those wise ancients who had excelled 
in any Art. First Grammar (her functions and great writers 
being told) forms the pole which goes before the axle-tree 
{temo praeambulus axis). Then Logic makes the axle-tree ; 
and Rhetoric adorns the pole with gems and the axle with 
flowers. Arithmetic constructs one wheel of the chariot, and 
Music the second. Geometry the third, and the fourth wheel 
is made by Astronomy.^ 

Now Reason, at Nature's nod, yokes to the chariot the 
five horses, to wit, the Senses disciplined and controlled, 
Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch. He himself 
mounts as charioteer, and bids Prudence follow. Amid the 
farewells and plaudits of all, the chariot soars aloft. As it 
speeds along. Prudence investigates atmospheric phenomena, 
and then the spirits of evil who wander through the air. 
They passed on through the upper ether, reached the citadel 
and fount of light, where the Sun holds sway ; next was 
reached the region where Venus and the star of Mercury sing 
together and Lucifer exults, the herald of the day. Then to 
their rapid flight appeared Mars' flaming palace, seething 
with fire and wrath. Onward they passed to the glad light 
and unhurtful flames of Jupiter, and then to Saturn's sphere. 
At length they ascended the stellar region where the Pole 
stars contend in brightness, where are seen Hercules and 
Orion, Leda's twins, the fiery Crab, the Lion, and the rest of 
the Zodiac's constellations.^ 

Here at heaven's entrance the chariot halted. Those 
five horses of the Senses, charioteered by Reason, could 
ascend no farther. But a damsel was seen, seated upon the 

^ The functions of these vurgins, the Seven Liberal Arts, are poetically told. 
The Anticlaudianus is no text-book. But the poet apparently is following the 
De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii of Martianus Capella, ante, Chapter IV. 

2 Compare the succession of Heavens in Dante's Paradiso. 


summit of the Pole. She scrutinizes the hidden Cause and 
End of all things, holding scales in her right hand and in 
her left a sceptre. On her vestments a subtile point traces 
God's secrets, and the formless is figured in form . Reverently 
Phronesis, that is Prudence, saluted this Queen of the Pole, 
and set forth the purpose of her journey, telling of Nature's 
desire and her limitations. In reply Theology, for it is she,^ 
offered herself as a companion, and bade Prudence leave her 
chariot, but keep the second courser (Hearing) to bear her 
on. Prudence now surmounted the starry citadels, and 
marvelled at heaven's nodes, where the four ways begin and 
the crystalline waters flow, shot with agreeing fires ; for 
here, in universal harmony transcending Nature's laws and 
Reason's power. Concord unites those elements which war 
below. Onward leads the way among those joys celestial 
which know no tears, where there is peace without hate, and 
light above all brightness. Here dwell the angel bands, 
the Thunderer's princes, regulators of the world ; here glow 
the seraphim, and cherubim drain draughts from the mind 
of God ; and here are the Thrones whereon God balances 
His weighed decrees, and with His band of Powers conquers 
the tyrants.^ Here also rest the saints, freed from earth's 
dross and passion, clothed in virgin white or martyr's purple, 
or wearing the Doctor's laurel. Joyful alike are they, yet 
diverse in merit, shining with unequal splendour.^ Here 
finally, in honour surpassing all, is the Virgin Mother, clad 
in the garb of our salvation — Star of the Sea, Way of Life, 
Port of Salvation, Limit of Piety, Mother of Pity, Garden 
closed. Sealed Font, Fruitful Olive, Sweet Paradise, Rose 
without Thorn, Guiltless Grace, Way of the Wanderer, Light 
of the Blind, Rest of the Tired — untold, unnumbered, and 
unspeakable are her praises.* 

Phronesis cannot bear the sight. Queen Theology calls 
to her sister Faith to aid the fainting one. Faith comes 

^ One may recall Raphael's painting of Theology on the ceiling of the Stanza 
del Segnatura in the Vatican. It is impossible not to compare the roles of Alan's 
Reason and Theology with those of Virgil and Beatrice in the Commedia. 

^ Here we are back in the Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

' As in Dante's Paradiso. 

* Most of these epithets of the Virgin come from allegorical interpretations 
of the text of the Vulgate. 


and holds her Mirror before the eyes of Phronesis ; and in 
this glass her eyes can endure the shaded glory of the 
overpowering vision. She staggers on, her trembling steps 
supported by Faith and Theology. In the glass she sees 
the eternal and divine, the enduring, moveless, sure ; species 
unborn, celestial ideas, the forms of men and principles of 
things, causes of causes and the course of fate, the Thunderer's 
mind ; why God condemns some, predestines others, prepares 
that one for life and from this one withdraws His rewards ; 
why poverty presses upon some and want is filled only with 
tears ; why riches pour on others, why one is wise, another 
lacking, and why the worthies of the past have been endowed 
each with his several gifts. ^ 

Marvelling at all these sights. Prudence, supported by 
the sisters, reached at last the palace of the King, and fell 
prostrate before God himself. He bade her rise, and speak. 
Humbly she set forth Nature's plight and the evil upon 
earth, and presented her petition. God accedes benignantly. 
He will not destroy the earth again, but will send a human 
spirit endowed with heavenly gifts, a pilgrim to the earth, a 
medicine for the world. Prudence worships. God summons 
Mind, and orders him to fashion the type-form, the idea of 
the human mind. Mind searches among existing beings for 
the traces of this new idea or type.^ His difficult search 
succeeds at last, and in the Mirror which he constructs, every 
grace takes its abode : Joseph's form, the intelligence of 
Judith, the patience of righteous Job, the modesty of Moses, 
Jacob's simplicity, Abraham's faith, Tobias's piety. He 
presents this pattern-type to God, who sets an accordant 
soul therein, and then entrusts the new-made being to 
Phronesis, while Mind anoints it with an unguent against the 
attacks of the Vices. Phronesis, with her prize, turned to 
the way by which she had ascended, regained her chariot 
and Reason her charioteer. Together they sped back to the 
congratulations of Nature and her Council. 

For this perfect soul Nature now forms a beautiful body. 
Concord unites the two, and a new man is formed, perfect 
and free from flaw. Chastity and guardian Modesty endow 

^ Compare the final vision of Dante in Paradiso, xxxui. 
^ The reader will notice the Platonism and Neo-Platonism of all this. 


him with their gifts ; Reason adds his, and Honesty. These 
Logic follows, with her gift of skill in argument ; Rhetoric 
brings her stores, then Arithmetic, next Music, next Geometry, 
next Astronomy ; ^ while Theology and Piety are not behind 
with theirs ; and to these Faith joins her gifts of fidelity and 
truth. Last of all comes Nobility, Fortune's daughter. But 
because she has nothing of her own to give, and must 
receive all from her mother, she betakes herself to Fortune's 
house of splendid mutability. What will Fortune give ? The 
two return to Nature's palace, and Fortune's magnificence 
is proffered by her daughter ; but Reason, standing by, will 
allow only a measured acceptance.^ 

The report of this richly endowed creature reached 
Alecto. Raging she summoned her pests, the chiefs of 
Tartarus, doers of ill, masters of every sin — Injury, Fraud, 
Perjury, Theft, Rapine, Fury and Anger, Hate, Discord, 
Strife, Disease and Melancholy, Lust, Wantonness and 
Need, Fear and Old Age. She roused them with a 
harangue : their rule is threatened by this upstart Creature, 
whom Parent Nature has prepared for war ; but what can 
his untried imbecility do against them in arms ? 

All clamour assent, and in a tumult of rage make ready 
for the strife. The hostile ranks approach. The first attack 
is made by Folly {Stultitia) and her comrades. Sloth, 
Gaming, Idle Jesting, Ease and Sleep. But faithful Virtues 
protect the constant youth against these foes. Next Discord 
leads its mutinous band, but only to defeat. Onslaughts 
follow from Poverty, next from Ill-Repute, from Old Age 
and Disease. Then Grieving advances, and is overthrown by 
Laughter. More deadly still are the attacks of Venus and 
Lust ; then Excess and Wantonness take up the fray ; and 
at the end Impiety and Fraud and Avarice. But still the 
man conquers with the aid of his Virtues ever true. 

The fight is over. The Virtues triumph and receive 
their Kingdoms ; Vice succumbs ; Love reigns instead of 
Discord ; the man is blessed ; and the earth, adorned with 

^ Notice that the Arts are here equipping and perfecting the man for his 
fight against sin ; — which corresponds with the common mediaeval view of the 
function of education. 

^ The poem gives a full description of Fortime and her house, and unstable 
splendid gifts. 


flowers in a new spring of youth, brings forth abundance. 
The Poet sums up his poem's teaching : From God must 
everything begin and in Him end. But our genius may not 
stand inert ; ours is the strife as well, according to our 
strength and faculty. Let the mind attach itself to the 
things which are and do not pass, even as Plato sings, from 
things of sense reaching on ever to the grades Angelic and 
Olympus's steeps. Then it shall behold the universal praise 
of God and the true ascription of all good to Him. He 
in himself is perfect. Part and likewise Whole, and every- 
where uncircumscribed. Nothing has power in itself, but 
all would fall to nothing, did He close the flux of hidden 

Alanus, a good Christian Doctor, is also an eclectic in his 
thought. A consistent system is hardly to be drawn from 
his poem. It suggests Christ. But its hero is not the God- 
man of the Incarnation. Its figures are semi-pagan. The 
virtue Faith, for example, is the Fides, the Good Faith, of 
the antique Roman, though it is the Christian virtue Faith 
as well. In language the poem is antique ; its verse has 
vigorous flow ; its imagery lacks neither beauty nor sub- 
limity. It is in fact a poem, a creation, having a scheme 
and unity of its own, although the author borrows con- 
stantly. Martianus Capella is there and Dionysius the 
Areopagite ; there also is the Psychomachia of Prudentius 
and its progeny of symbolic battles between the Virtues and 
the Vices. ^ Yet Alanus has achieved ; for he has woven his 
material into a real poem and has reared his own lofty 
allegory. His work is another grand example of mediaeval 

Thus we see the ceaseless sweep of allegory through 
men's minds. They felt and thought and dreamed in 
allegories ; and also spent their dry ingenuity on allegorical 

1 But the different names of Alanus's Virtues and Vices, and their novel 
antagonisms, indicate an original view of morality with him. On the Psychomachia 
see Taylor, Classical Heritage, pp. 278 sqq. and 379. Allegorical combats and 
dibats (both in Latin and in the vernacular tongues) are frequent in mediaeval 
literature. Cf. e.g. post, Chapter XXXI. Again, in certain parabolae ascribed to 
St. Bernard (Migne 183, col. 757 sqq.) the various virtues, Prudentia, Fortitude, 
Discretio, Temperantia, Spes, Timor, Sapientia, are so naturally made to act 
and speak, that one feels they had become personalities proper for poetry and art. 
Compare Hildegard's characterizations of the Vices, ante, Chapter XX. 


constructions. It was reserved for one supreme poet to 
create, out of this atmosphere, a supreme poem which is 
as complete an allegory as the Antidaudianus. But the 
Divina Commedia has also the power of its human 
realities of actually experienced pain and joy, and hate and 
love. Compared with it, the Antidaudianus betrays the 
vapourings of monk and doctor, imaginative indeed, but 
thin. The author's feet were not planted on the earth of 
human life. 

But the Middle Ages did not demand that allegory 
should have its feet planted on the earth, so long as its head 
nodded high among the clouds — or its sentiments wandered 
sweetly in fancy's gardens. In one of these dwelt that 
lovely Rose, whose Roman once had vogue. In structure 
the Roman de la rose is an allegory from the beginning of 
the first part by De Lorris to the very end of that encyclo- 
paedic sequel added by De Meun. The story is well 
known. ^ One may recall the fact that in De Lorris's poem 
and De Meun's sequel every quality and circumstance of 
Love's sentiment and fortunes are figured in allegorical 
personifications — all the lover's hopes and fears and the 
wavering chances of his quest. 

In this respect the poem is the courtly and romantic 
counterpart of such a philosophical or religious allegory 
as the Antidaudianus. Personifications of the arts and 
sciences, the vices and virtues, current since the time of 
Prudentius's Psychomachia and Capella's Nuptials of Philo- 
logy, were all in the Antidaudianus, while in the Roman 
de la rose figure their secular and romantic kin : in 
De Lorris's part, Love, Fair-Welcome, Danger, Reason, 
Franchise, Pity, Courtesy, Shame, Fear, Idleness, Jealousy, 
Wicked-Tongue ; then, with De Meun, others besides : 

^ The English reader will derive much pleasiure from F. S. Ellis's admirable 
verse translation : The Romance of the Rose (Dent and Co., London, 1900). Each 
of the three little volumes of this translation has a convenient synopsis of the 
contents. Those who would know what is known of the tale and its authors 
should read Langlois's chapter on it, in Histoire de la langue et de la litterature 
frangaise, edited by Petit de Julleville. It may be said here, for those whose 
memories need refreshing, that William de Lorris wrote the first part, some forty- 
two hundred lines, about the year 1237, and died leaving it unfinished ; John de 
Meun took up the poem some thirty years afterwards, and added his sequel of 
more than eighteen thousand lines. 



Richesse, False-Seeming, Hypocrisy, Nature, and Genius.^ 
The figures of the Roman de la rose have diverse antecedents 
scattered through the entire store of knowledge and classic 
literature possessed by the Middle Ages ; perhaps their 
immediate source of inspiration was the scheme of courtly 
love which the mediaeval imagination elaborated and 
revelled in.^ The poem of De Lorris was a veritable 
romantic allegory. De Meun, in his sequel, rather plays 
with the allegorical form, which he continues ; it has become 
a frame for his stores of learning, his knowledge of the 
world, his views of life, his wit and satire, and his great 
literary and poetic gifts. Yet it ends in a regular 
Psychomachia, in which Love's barons are hard beset by all 
the foes of Love's delight, though Love has its will at last. 

1 The names are Englished after Elhs's translation. 

^ See ante, Chapter XXIV. ; De Meun took much from the Deplanctu naturae 
of Alanus. 






I. Classical Reading. 
n. Grammar. 

in. The Effect upon the Mediaeval Man ; Hildebert of 

During all the mediaeval centuries, men approached the 
Classics expecting to learn from them. The usual attitude 
toward the classical heritage was that of docile pupils 
looking for instruction. One may recall the antecedent 
reasons of this, which have already been stated at length. 
In Italy, letters survived as the most impressive legacy from 
an overshadowing past. In the north, save where they 
lingered on from the antique time, they came in the train 
of Latin Christianity, and were offered to men under the 
same imposing conditions of a higher civilization authori- 
tatively instructing ruder peoples. Moreover, between the 
ancient times which produced the classic literature and the 
Carolingian period there intervened centuries of degeneracy 
and transition, when the Classics were used pedagogically to 
teach grammar and rhetoric. Then grammars were com- 
posed or revised, and other handbooks of elementary 
instruction. The Classics still were loved ; but how shall 
men love beyond their own natures ? Gifted Jerome, great 
Augustine, loved them with an ardour bringing its own 
misgivings. Other lovers, like Ausonius and ApoUinaris 
Sidonius, were pedantic imitators. 

Both north and south of the Alps another and obviously 
enduring cause fostered the habit of regarding the Classics 



as storehouses of knowledge : the fact that they were such 
for all the mediaeval centuries. They included not only 
poetry and eloquence, but also history, philosophy, natural 
knowledge, law and polity. The knowledge contained in 
them exceeded what the men of western Europe otherwise 
possessed. As century after century passed, mediaeval men 
learned more for themselves, and also drew more largely on 
the classic store. Yet it remained unexhausted. The twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries constitute the great mediaeval 
epoch. Men were then opening their eyes a little to observe 
the natural world, and were thinking a little for themselves. 
Nevertheless the chief increase in knowledge issued from the 
gradual discovery and mastering of the works of Aristotle. 
These centuries, like their predecessors, make clear that men 
who inherit from a greater past a universal literature con- 
taining the best they can conceive and more knowledge than 
they can otherwise attain, will be likely to regard every part 
of this literature as in some way a source of knowledge, 
physical or metaphysical, historical or ethical. And the 
Classics merited such regard ; for where they did not instruct 
in science, they imparted knowledge of life, and norms and 
instances of conduct, from which men still may draw guidance. 
We have outlearned the physics, and perhaps the meta- 
physics of the Greeks ; their knowledge of nature, in com- 
parison with ours, was but as a genial beginning ; their 
polities and their formal ethics we have tried and tested ; 
but we have not risen above the power and inspiration of 
the story of Greece and Rome, and the exemplifications of 
life in the Greek and Latin Classics. It has not ceased to 
be true that he who best loves the Classics, and most deeply 
feels their unique excellence as literature, is he who still 
draws life from them, and discipline and knowledge. Their 
true lovers, like the true lovers of all noble literature, are 
always in a state of pupilage to the poems and the histories 
they love. 

Obviously then no final word lies in the statement that 
through the Middle Ages men turned to the Classics for 
instruction. They did indeed turn to them for all kinds 
of knowledge, and for discipline. Often they looked for 
instruction from Ovid or Virgil in a way. to make us smile. 


Often they were like schoolboys, dully conning words which 
they did not feel and so did not understand. But in the 
tenth century, and in the twelfth, some men admired and 
loved the Latin Classics, and drew from them, as we may, 
lessons which are learned only by those who love aright. 

It would be hard to say what the men of the Middle 
Ages did not thus gain. Thelpagan classical literature was 
one of humanity in its full range of interests. This was 
true of the Greek ; and from the Greek, the universal human 
passed to the Latin, which the Middle Ages were to know. 
In both literatures, man was a denizen of earth. The laws 
of mortality and fate were held before his eyes ; and the 
action of the higher powers bore upon mortal happiness, 
rather than upon any life to come. When reflecting upon 
the use and influence of the Classics through the Middle 
Ages, it is always to be kept in mind that the antique 
literature was the literature of this life and of this world ; 
that it was universal in its humanity, and still in the Middle 
Ages might touch every human love and human interest 
not directly connected with the hopes and tensors of the 
Judgment Day. 

So whenever educated mediaeval men were drawn by the 
ambitions or moved by the finer joys of human life, it lay 
in their path to seek instruction or satisfaction from some 
antique source. If a man wished the common education 
of a clerk, he drew it from antique text-books and their 
commentaries. Grammar and rhetoric meant Latin grammar 
and Latin rhetoric ; dialectic also was Latin and antique. 
Likewise the quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, 
and music, could be studied only in Latin. These ordinary 
branches of education having been mastered, if then the 
man's tastes or ambitions turned to the interests of earth 
(and who except the saintly recluse was not so drawn ?) 
he would still look to the antique. A civilian or an ecclesi- 
astic would need some knowledge of law, which for the 
most part was Roman, even when disguised as Canon law.^ 
Did a man incline toward philosophy, and the scrutiny of 
life's deeper problems, again the source was the antique ; 
and when he lifted his mind to theology, he would still find 

1 Post, Chapter XXXIV. 


himself reasoning in categories of antique dialectic. Finally, 
and this was a broad field of humane inclination, if a clerkly 
educated man loved poetry, eloquence, and history, for their 
own sakes, he also would turn to the antique. 

There is scarcely need to revert again to the use of the 
Classics in the earlier Middle Ages. We have seen that in 
Italy they never ceased to form the conscious background 
to all intellectual life ; and that in the north, letters came a 
handmaid in the train of Latin Christianity — a handmaid 
that was apt to assert her own value, and also charm the 
minds of men. From the first, it was the orthodox view 
that Latin letters should provide the education enabling men 
to understand the Christian religion adequately. This is 
the object set forth in Charlemagne's Capitularies upon 
education.^ Three hundred years later Honorius of Autun 
says in his sermonizing way : 

" Not only, beloved, do the sacred writings lead us to eternal 
life, but profane letters also teach us ; for edifying matter may 
be drawn from them. In view of sacred examples no one should 
be scandalized at this. For the children of Israel spoiled the 
Egyptians ; they took gold and silver, gems and precious vest- 
ments, which they afterwards turned into God's treasury to build 
the tabernacle." ^ 

Honorius used Augustine's reference to the Egyptians, 
and followed this Augustinian view, always recognized as 
orthodox in the Middle Ages. It was narrower than the 
practice among those who followed letters. Gerbert at the 
close of the tenth century loved to teach and read the pagan 
writers, and drew from them training and discipline.^ In 
the next century, the German monk Froumund of Tegemsee, 
with Bernward and Godehard, bishops of Hildesheim, are 
instances of German love of antique letters.* Yet lofty 
souls might choose to limit their reading of the Classics, at 
least in theory, to the needs of their Latinity. Such a one 
was Hugo of St. -Victor, scholar, theologian, man of genius ; ^ 
he professed to care more for the Christian ardours of 
the soul than for learning even as a means of righteousness, 

1 Ante, Vol. I. p. 213. - Migne, Pat. Lat. 172, col. 1056. 

3 Ante, Chapter XII., i. * Ante, Chapter XIII., i. 

6 Ante, Chapter XXIX. 


and chose to take the side of those who would read the 
classic authors only so far as the needs of education 
demanded : 

" There are two kinds of writings, first those which are termed 
the artes proper, secondly, those which are the supplements 
(appendentia) of the artes. Artes comprise the works grouped 
under {supponuntur) philosophy, those which contain some 
fixed and determined matter of philosophy, as grammar, dia- 
lectic and the like. Appendentia artium are those [writings] 
which touch philosophy less nearly and are occupied with some 
subject apart from it ; and yet sometimes offer flotsam and 
jetsam from the artes, or simply as narratives smooth the road 
to philosophy. All the songs of poets are such — tragedies, 
comedies, satires, heroics, and lyrics too, and iambics, besides 
certain didactic works {didascalica) ; tales likewise, and histories ; 
also the writings of those nowadays called philosophers, who 
extend a brief matter with lengthy circumlocution, and thus 
darken a simple meaning. 

" Note then well the distinction I have drawn for thee : 
distinct and different {duo) are the artes and their appenditia, 
. . . and often from the latter the student will gain much labour 
and little fruit. The artes, without their appenditia, may make 
the reader perfect ; but the latter, without the artes, can bring 
no whit of perfection. Wherefore one should first of aU devote 
himself to the artes, which are so fundamental, and to the afore- 
said seven above all, which are the means and instruments 
{instrumenta) of all philosophy. Then let the rest be read, if one 
has leisure, since sometimes the playful mingled with the serious 
especially delights us, and we are apt to remember a moral found 
in a tale." ^ 

Temperament affected Hugo's view. He was of the 
spiritual aristocracy, who may be somewhat disdainful of 
the common means by which men get their education and 
round out their natures. The mechanical monotony of 
pedagogy grated on him and evoked the ironical sketch of a 
school-room, which he put in his dialogue on the Vanity of 
the World. The little Discipulus, directed by his Magister, 
is survejdng human things. 

" Turn again, and look," says the latter, " and what do you 
see ? " 

" I see the schools of learners. There is a great crowd, and of 
aU ages, boys and youths, men young and old. They study 

^ Didascalicon, iii. 4 (Migne 176, col. 768-769). 


various things. Some practise their rude tongue at the alphabet 
and at words new to them. Others hsten to the inflection of 
words, their composition and derivation ; then by reciting and 
repeating them they try to commit them to memory. Others 
furrow the waxen tablets with a stylus. Others, guiding the 
calamus with learned hand, draw figures of different shapes and 
colours on parchments. Still others with sharper zeal seem to 
dispute on graver matters and try to trip each other with twistings 
and impossibilities (gryphis ?). I see some also making calcula- 
tions, and some producing various sounds upon a cord stretched 
on a frame. Others, again, explain and demonstrate geometric 
figures ; and yet others with various instruments show the 
positions and courses of the stars and the movement of the 
heavens. Others, finally, consider the nature of planets, the con- 
stitution of men, and the properties and powers of things." 

The Disciple is captivated with this many-coloured show 
of learning ; but the Master declares it to be mostly foolish- 
ness, distracting the student from understanding his own 
nature, his Creator, and his future lot.^ 

These are examples, which might be multiplied indefinitely, 
of the pious mediaeval view that the artes, with a very little 
reading of the auctores, were proper for the educated Christian, 
whose need was to understand Scripture. Sometimes, stung, 
at least rhetorically, by fear of the lust and idolatry of the 
antique, mediaeval souls cry out against its lures, even as 
Jerome's Christianly protesting nature dreamed that famous 
dream of exclusion from heaven as a " Ciceronian." Alcuin, 
who led the educational movement under Charlemagne, 
gently chides one whose fondness for Virgil made him 
forget his friend — " would that the Gospels rather than the 
Aeneid filled thy breast." ^ Three hundred years later, St. 
Peter Damiani, himself a virtuoso in letters and a sometime 
teacher of rhetoric, arraigns the monks for teaching grammar 
rather than things spiritual.^ Damiani speaks with the 
harshness of one who fears what he loves. In France, about 
the same time, our worthy sermon-writer, Honorius of Autun, 
liked the profanities well enough, and drew from them apt 
moral tales, which preachers might introduce to rouse drowsy 

^ De vanitate mundi, i. (Migne 176, col. 709, 710). 
^ Ep. 169 (Migne, Pat. Lat. 100, col. 441). 

^ Opusc. xiii. ; De perfedione monachi, cap. xi. (Migne 144, col. 306). See 
ante, Chapter XVII. 


congregations. Yet he directs his pulpit-thunder at the 
cives Babyloniae, the superbi, who after their several tastes 
finger profane literature to their peril : " Those delighting in 
quibbling learn Aristotle : the lovers of war have Maro, and 
the lustful idlers their Naso, Lucan and Statins incite 
discords, while Horace and Terence equip the pert and 
wanton {petulantes) — but since the names of these are blotted 
from the book of hfe, I shall not commemorate them with 
my lips." ^ 

This with the excellent Honorius was pious rhetoric. 
Yet the love and fear of antique letters caused anxiety in 
many a mediaeval soul, deflected by them from its narrow 
path to the heavenly Jerusalem. Indeed the love of letters 
and of knowledge was to play its part, and might take one 
side or the other, according to the motive of their pursuit, 
in the great mediaeval psychomachia between the cravings of 
mortal life and the militant insistencies of the soul's salva- 
tion. This conflict, not confined to mediaeval monks, has 
its universal aspects. It echoes in the sigh of Michel- 
angelo over the 

" a£Eectuosa fantasia, 
Che r arte si fece idolo e monarca," 

- — which had so long drawn his heart from Eternity. ^ 

Commonly, however, this conflict did not greatly disturb 
scholars who felt in some degree the classic spell so manifold 
of delight in themes delightful, of pleasure somehow drawn 
from clear statement and convincing sequence of thought, 
of even deeper happiness springing from the stirring of those 
faculties through which man rejoices in knowledge. To be 
sure, readers of the Classics, who drew joy from them or 
satisfaction, or humane instruction, were comparatively few 
in the mediaeval centuries' as they are to-day. And un- 
doubtedly in the Middle Ages the Classics usually were 
read in unenlightened schoolboy fashion. Yet making 
these reservations, we may be sure that letters yielded up 
their joys to the chosen few in every mediaeval century. 
" Amor litterarum ab ipso fere initio pueritiae mihi est in- 
natus," wrote Lupus in the ninth. ^ Gerbert might have said 

^ speculum ecclesiae (Migne 172, col. 1085). 
^ Sonnet 56. ^ Ep. i. (Migne 119, col. 433). 


the same, and many of the men who taught at Chartres in the 
generations following. So likewise might have said John of 
Sahsbury. In studying the Classics he certainly looked to 
them for instruction. But he also loved them, and found 
companionship and solace in them, as he says, and as Cicero 
before him had said of letters. 

We may ask ourselves what sort of pleasure do we get 
from reading the Classics ? not necessarily a light distract- 
ing of the mind, but rather a deeper gratification : thought 
is aroused and satisfied, and our nature is appeased by the 
admirable presentation of things admirable. At the same 
time we may be conscious of discipline and benefit. There 
is good reason to suppose that a like pleasure, or satisfaction, 
with discipline and instruction, came to this exceedingly 
clever John from reading Terence, Virgil and Ovid, Horace, 
Juvenal, Lucan, Persius and Statins, Cicero, Seneca and 
Quintilian — for he read them all.^ John is affected, im- 
pressed, and trained by his classic reading ; he has absorbed 
his authors ; he quotes from them as spontaneously and 
aptly as he quotes from Scripture. A quotation from the one 
or the other may give final point to an argument, and have 
its own eloquent suggestions. Sometimes the tone of one 
of his own letters — which usually are excellent in form and 
language — may agree with that of the pithy antique quota- 
tion garnishing it. A mediaeval writer was not likely to 
say just what we should when expressing ourselves on the 
same matter. Yet John makes quite clear to us how he 
cared for antique letters, in the Prologue to his Policraticus, 
his chief work on philosophy and life ; and we may take his 
word as to the satisfaction which he drew from them, since 
his own writings prove his assiduity in their cult. This 
prologue is somewhat cherche, and imbued with a preciosity 
of sentiment putting one in mind of Cicero's oration Pro 
Archia poeta. 

" Most delightful in many ways, but in this especially, is the 
fruit of letters, that banishing the irksomeness of intervals of 
place and time, they bring friends into each other's presence, 

1 John approved of reading the atidores, for educational purposes, and not 
confining the pupil to the aries. See Metalogicus, i. 23, 24 (Migne, Pat. Lat. 
iqg, col. 453). On John, cf. post, Chapter XXXII. and XXXVII., in. 


and do not suffer noteworthy things to perish from mould. For 
the arts would have perished, laws would have vanished, the 
of&ces of faith and religion would have fallen away, and even the 
rorrect use of language would have failed, had not the divine pity, 
as a remedy for human infirmity, provided letters for the use of 
mortals. Ancient examples, which incite to virtue, would cheer 
and serve no one, had not the pious soHcitude of writers trans- 
mitted them to posterity. . . . Who would know the Alexanders 
and the Caesars, or admire Stoics and Peripatetics, had not the 
monuments of writers signalized them ? Triumphal arches 
promote the glory of illustrious men from the carved scroll of 
their deeds. The observer recognizes the Liberator of his Country, 
the Estabhsher of Peace, only when the inscription reveals Con- 
stantine the Victor whom Britain brought forth. The light of 
fame endures for no one save through his own or another's writing. 
How many and how great kings thinkest thou there have been, of 
whom there is neither speech nor thought ? Vainly are noble 
deeds performed if their fame does not shine in the light of letters. 
Other favour or distinction is as when fabled Echo catches the 
plaudits of the Play, ceasing the moment it has begun. 

" Besides all this, solace in grief, recreation in labour, cheer- 
fulness in poverty, modesty among riches and delights, faithfully 
are bestowed by letters. For the soul is redeemed from its vices, 
and even in adversity refreshed with sweet and wondrous cheer, 
when the mind is intended upon reading or writing what is profit- 
able. Thou shalt find in human life no more pleasing or more 
useful employment ; unless perchance devotion divinely spurred 
by prayer attains divine colloquies, or with heart dilated through 
love conceives God, and as with the hand of meditation touches 
within itself the great things of God. Believe one who has tried 
it, that all the sweets of the world, compared with these exercises, 
are wormwood." ^ 

Hereupon, still addressing himself to his friend and 
patron, Thomas k Becket, John suggests that these recrea- 
tions are peculiarly beneficial to men in their circumstances, 
burdened with affairs ; and he puts his principles in practice, 
by launching forth upon his lengthy work of learned and 
philosophic disquisition. 

To supplement this outline of John's appreciation of the 
Classics, it will be interesting to look into the literary inter- 
pretation of a classical poem, from the pen of one of his 
contemporaries. So little is known of the author, Bernard 

^ PoUcraticus, Prologus (Migne, Pat. Lat. 199, col. 385) ; p. 12 in the (better) 
Oxford edition by Webb, Joannis Saresberiensis Policratici libri VIII. (1909). 


Silvestris, that he usually has been confused with his more 
famous fellow, Bernard of Chartres. We may refer to both 
of them again. ^ Here our business is solely with the 
Commentum Bernardi Silvestris super sex lihros Aeneidos 
Virgilii.^ The writer draws from the Saturnalia of the fifth- 
century grammarian, Macrobius ; but his allegorical inter- 
pretation of the Aeneid seems to be his own. He finds in 
the Aeneid a twofold consideration, in that its author meant 
to teach philosophic truth, and at the same time was not 
inattentive to the poetic plot. 

" Since then Virgil in this poem is both philosopher and poet, 
we shall first expound the purpose and method of the poet. . . . 
His aim is to unfold the calamities of Aeneas and other Trojans, 
and the labours of the exiles. Herein disregarding the truth of 
history as told by Dares the Phrygian,^ and seeking to win the 
favour of Augustus, he adorns the facts with figments. For 
Virgil, greatest of Latin poets, wrote in imitation of Homer, 
greatest of Greek poets. As Homer in the Iliad narrates the fall 
of Troy and in the Odyssey the exile of Ulysses ; so Virgil in the 
second Book briefly relates the overthrow of Troy, and in the rest 
the labours of Aeneas. Consider the twin order of narration, the 
natural and the artistic {artificialem). The natural is when the 
narrative proceeds according to the sequence of events, teUing 
first what happened first, Lucan and Statius keep to this order. 
The artistic is when we begin in the middle of the story, and thence 
revert to the commencement. Terence writes thus, and Virgil in 
this work. It would have been the natural order to have 
described first the destruction of Troy, and then brought the 
Trojans to Crete, from Crete to Sicily, and from Sicily to Libya. 
But he first brings them to Dido, and introduces Aeneas relating 
the overthrow of Troy and the other things that he has suffered.* 

"Up to this point we show how he proceeds : next let us 
observe why he does it so. With poets there is the reason of use- 
fulness, as with a satirist ; the reason of pleasure, as with a writer 
of comedies ; and again these two combined, as with the historical 
poet. As Horace says : 

' Aut prodesse volunt aut delectare poetae, 
Aut simul et iucunda et idonea dicere vitae. 

1 Post, Chapter XXXVII., ni. 

2 I draw upon the extracts given in the thesis of M. Demimuid, De Bernardo 
Carnotensi grammatico professore et interprete Virgilii (Paris, 1873), who, as appears 
by his title, confuses the two Bernards. 

3 The author of a bastard epitome on the Trojan War, see post, Chapter 

* The above, in substance, is taken from Macrobius. 



" This kind of a historical poem is shown by its fisurativs =,„^ 
poUshed diction and in the various mischances and deeds narrated 
If any one will study to imitate it he will gain skiU in v^w' 
The nairative also contains instances and arguments for foUowhS 
the right and avoiding what is evil. Hence a twofold profit T ttf 
reader : skiU in writing, gamed through imitation, and pnidence 
i, conduct, drawn from example and precept. For instate S 
the labours of Aeneas we have an example of endurSce and 
one of piety, m his affection for Anchises and Ascanius Vro ™ 
the reverence which he shows the gods, from the oracles wS 
be supphcates from the sacrifices which he offers, from tte vows 
andprayers which he pours forth, we feel drawn to rehgTon IZl 
Sdden^° ' " """' '°™' "' ''' ^"^"'<* fr°- dfs™e foTtiie 

The above is excellent, but not particularly original 

i" thi?:'at°"HTa ^* """T't ^""'"^ ^PP^^-^'« *^ ^"^^ 
m this way^ His allegoncal interpretation is of a piece with 

current mediaeval methods. Yet to take a poem allegoricTl y 

was not distmctively mediaeval ; for Homer and other poetl 

had been thus expounded from the days of Plato, who did not 

ersentfre^f thf*' ^T"'' "'''' ^°* "' *« ^^ 
represents one of the ages of man, the first Book betokening 

mfancy, the second boyhood, and so forth. ^ egorica! 
etymologies are applied to the names of the personages and 
m general the whole natural course and setting of the poem 
d t'" !,"r™^"y- " The sea is the human body move" 
and tossed by drunkenness and lusts, which are repre^enled 
by waves." Aeneas, to wit, the human soul joined to Us 
body, comes to Carthage, the mundane city where Dido 
reigns, which is lust ; this allegory is unfolLrin detlu 
So the mterpretation ambles on, not more and noTi ' 
lejune than such ingenuities usuaiy are. ''"' 

centSr't ''"^''' '''*''^ '^''' ^«°«h in the twelfth 
tars • and" T^-^? *"* "^^"'"^y ™^P^==«d **= Pre 
wMch dented tn tt'"'"' '*"f = " ^"'='="^<^ '^' thirteenth, 
mergies The . ml" ^ ""^"''' P"«°" °* "^ intellectua 
iwSlt%i ^''^ t^-^'fth century, to be sure, was prodigiously 
interested in dialectic and theology. Yet these hfd nn^ 

ht^:tTnXtr^""^^^^ ™^^^^-y°^^^^^^ 

m physical or experimental science distracted the 


eyes of men from the charms of the ancient written page. 
The change took place in the thirteenth century. Its best 
intellectual efforts, north of the Alps at least, were directed 
to the study and theological appropriation of the Aristotelian 
encyclopaedia of metaphysics and universal knowledge . ^ The 
effect of Aristotle was totally unliterary. And the minds 
of men, absorbed in mastering this giant mass of knowledge 
and argument, ceased to regard literary form and the 
humane aspects of Latin literature. 

Until the thirteenth century, dialectic and theology were 
not completely severed from helles lettres. The Platonic- 
Augustinian theology of the twelfth century had been 
idealizing and imaginative, not to say poetical. Such an 
interesting exponent of it as Hugo of St. Victor appears as 
a literary personage, despite his stinted advocacy of classical 
study. One notes that for his time the chief single source 
of physical knowledge was the Latin version of the Timaeus, 
certainly not a prosaic composition. Thus, for the twelfth 
century, an effective cause of the continuance of the study 
of letters lay herein : whatever branch of natural knowledge 
might allure the student, he could not draw it bodily from 
a serious but unliterary repository, like the Physics or De 
animalihus of Aristotle, which were not yet available ; he 
must follow his bent through the writings of various Latin 
poets as well as prose-writers. In fine, the sources of profane 
knowledge open to the twelfth century were literary in their 
nature, and might form part of the literature which would be 
read by a student of grammar or rhetoric. 

One sees this in John of Salisbury. There may have 
been a few men who knew more than he did of some 
particular topic. But his range and readiness of knowledge 
were unique. And it is evident from his writings that his 
knowledge (except in logic) had no special or scientific 
source, but was derived from a promiscuous reading of 
Latin literature. As a result, he is himself a literary man. 
One may say much the same of his younger contemporary, 
Alanus de Insulis.^ He too has gathered knowledge from 
literary sources, and he himself is one of the best Latin 

1 Post, Chapter XXXVIII. 
2 Ante, Chapter XXX., ii., and post. Chapter XXXVIL, in. 


poets of the Middle Ages. Another extremely poetic 
philosopher was Bernard Silvestris, the interpreter of Virgil. 
His De mundi unitate is a Pantheistic exposition of the 
Universe ; it is also a poem ; and incidentally it affords 
another illustration of the general fact, that before the works 
of Aristotle were made known and expounded in the 
thirteenth century, all kinds of natural and quasi-philosophic 
knowledge were drawn from a variety of writings, some of 
them poor enough from any point of view, but none of them 
distinctly scientific and unliterary, like the works of Aristotle. 
Formal logic or dialectic, as cultivated by Abaelard for 
example, appears as an exception. It had been specialized 
and more scientifically treated than any branch of sub- 
stantial knowledge ; for indeed it was based on the logical 
treatises of Aristotle, most of which were in use before 
Abaelard's death, and all of which were known to Thierry 
of Chartres and John of Salisbury.^ 

The contrast between the cathedral school of Chartres 
and the University of Paris illustrates the change from the 
twelfth to the thirteenth century. The former has been 
spoken of in a previous chapter, where its story was brought 
down to the times of its great teachers, Bernard and Thierry, 
of whom we shall have to speak in connection with the 
teaching of grammar and the reading of classical authors. 
The school flourished exceedingly until the middle of the 
twelfth century.^ By that time the schools of Paris had 
received an enormous impetus from the popularity of 
Abaelard, and scholars had begun to push thither from all 
quarters. But it was not till the latter part of the century 
that the University, with its organization of Masters and 
Faculties, began visibly to emerge out of the antecedent 
cathedral school.^ Chartres was a home of letters ; and 

1 Post, Chapter XXXVIL, i. 

^ For a successor or friendly rival to Chartres, in the interest taken in grammar 
and classical literature, one should properly look to Orleans, where apparently 
those studies continued to flourish. Of. L. Delisle, " Les jfecoles d'Orleans au 
douzieme sifecle," Annuaire- Bulletin de la SociSte de I'Histoire de France, t. vii, 
(1869), p. 139 sqq. In a Bataille des sept arts, by Henri d'Andeli, of the first 
half of the thirteenth century, Logic, from its stronghold of Paris, vanquishes 
Grammar, whose stronghold is Orleans. In the conflict, with much symbolic 
truth, Aristotle overthrows Priscian, Histoire Utteraire de la France, t. xxiii. p. 
225. 3 Pqsi^ Chapter XXXVIII. 


146 THE MEDIAEVAL MIND bookvi \ 

there Latin literature was read enthusiastically. But in 

Paris Abaelard was pre-eminently a dialectician ; and after 

he died, through those decades when the University was 

coming into existence, the tide of study set irresistibly 

toward theology and metaphysics. Students and masters 

of the Faculty of Arts outnumbered all the other Faculties ; 

nevertheless, counting not by tumultuous numbers, but by 

intellectual strength, the great matter was Theology, and the 

majority of the Masters in the Arts were students in the 

divine science. The Arts were regarded as a preparatory 

discipline. So through its great period, which roughly 

coincides with the thirteenth century, the University of 

Paris was for all Europe the supreme seat of Dialectic, 

Metaphysics, and Theology, and yet no kindly nurse of 

belles lettres. 

The tendencies of Oxford were not quite the same as 
those of Paris, yet Latin literature as such does not seem to 
have been cultivated there for its own fair sake. This 
apparently was unaffected by the fact that at Oxford there 
took place a notable movement aiming at the acquisition of 
a substantial knowledge of Greek and Hebrew and even 
Arabic. The promoters were Robert Grosseteste and his 
pupil Roger Bacon. The former was Oxford's first great 
teacher and inspirer. He was bom in Suffolk about the 
year 1175 ; studied at Lincoln, then at Oxford, then at 
Paris, whence he returned to become chancellor of the 
University of Oxford. He was a devoted friend to the 
Franciscans, and lectured in their house at Oxford. Made 
bishop of Lincoln in 1236, he died seventeen years later.^ 

Bacon praises Grosseteste for his devotion to mathematics 
and physics, saying : " No one knew the sciences save Lord 
Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, from his length of life, experience, 
studiousness and industry, and because he knew mathe- 
matics and optics, and was able to know all things ; and he 
knew enough of the languages to understand the saints and 
philosophers of antiquity ; but not enough to translate 
them, unless toward the end of his life, when he invited 
Greeks, and had books of Greek grammar gathered from 

1 His works have at last been edited by L. Baur, Die philosophischen Werke 
des Robert Grosseteste (Baeumker's Beitrdge, 1912). 


Greece and elsewhere." ^ Bacon also says that Grosseteste 
" gave the Latins some part of the writings of St. Dionysius 
[the pseudo-Areopagite] and of Damascenus,^ and some other 
holy Doctors." There is other evidence of Grosseteste's 
work as a translator, or co-operator in translations, from the 
Greek and even Hebrew.^ Bacon was himself a better 
Greek scholar than the older man, and wrote a Greek 
grammar,* and endeavoured to incite men to a study of 
these tongues. But neither Grosseteste nor Bacon appears 
to have been moved by any literary interest in Greek 
literature ; both one and the other urged the importance of 
Greek, and of Hebrew too and Arabic, in order to reach a 
surer knowledge of Scripture and Aristotle.^ They sought 
to open the veritable founts of theology and natural know- 
ledge, an intelligent aim indeed, but quite unliterary. In 
spirit both these men belong to the thirteenth century, not 
to the twelfth. 

In Italy, one does not find that the passage from the 
twelfth to the thirteenth century displays the decline in 
classical studies which is apparent north of the Alps. The 
reasons seem obvious. The passion for metaphysical 
theology did not invade this land of practical ecclesiasticism 
and urban living, where pagan antiquity, dumb, broken, and 
defaced, yet everywhere surviving, was the medium of life 
and thought and temperamental inclination in the thirteenth 
as well as in the twelfth century. Nor was Italy as yet 
becoming scientific, or greatly interested in physical 
hypothesis ; although medicine was cultivated in various 
centres, Salerno, for example, and Bologna, But for the 
twelfth, and for the thirteenth century as well, Italy's great 
intellectual achievement was in the two closely neighbouring 
sciences of canon and civil law. These made the University 
of Bologna as pre-eminent in law as Paris was in theology. 
There had been schools of grammar and rhetoric at Bologna 

^ opus tertium, Chapter XXV., p. 91 (Brewer's text). 

^ John of Damascus, an influential theologian of the Greek church, who 
wrote in the first half of the eighth century. Of. post, p. 336, note. 

' See Grabmann, Ges. der schol. Methode, ii. pp. 81 sqq. ; M. R. James, " The 
Christian Renaissance," Chapter XVII. of The Cambridge Modern History. 
Grosseteste translated apparently The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs and 
some parts of Eriugena. 

* Post, p. 155. s See post, Chapter XLII. 


and Ravenna, before the lecturing of Irnerius on the 
Pandects drew to the first-named town the concourse of 
mature and seemly students who were gradually to organize 
themselves into a university.^ Thus at Bologna law 
flourished and grew great, springing upward from an 
antecedent base of grammatical if not literary studies. The 
study of the law never cut itself away from this foundation. 
For the exigencies of legal business demanded training in 
the scrivener's and notarial arts of inditing epistles and 
drawing documents, for which the ars dictaminis, to wit, the 
art of composition was of primary utility. This ars, teaching 
as it did both the general rules of composition and the more 
specific forms of legal or other formal documents, pertained 
to law as well as grammar. Of the latter study it was 
perhaps in Italy the main element or, rather, end. But even, 
without this hybrid link of the dictamen, grammar was needed 
for the interpretation of the Pandects ; and indeed some 
of the glosses of Irnerius and other early glossators are 
grammatical rather than legal explanations of the text. 
We should bear in mind that this august body of juris- 
prudential law existed not in the inflated statutory Latin of 
Justinian's time, but in the sonorous and correct language 
of the earlier empire, when the great Jurists lived, as well 
as Quintilian. Accordingly a close study of the Pandects 
required, as well as yielded, a knowledge of classical 
Latinity. Thus law tended to foster, rather than repress, 
grammar and rhetoric ; and had no unfavourable effect on 
classical studies. And even as such studies " flourished " in 
Italy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, they did not 
cease to " flourish," there in the thirteenth, in the same 
general though rather dull and uncreative way. For it will 
hereafter appear that the productions of the Latin poets and 
rhetoricians of Italy were below the literary level of those 
composed north of the Loire in France, or in England. - 


From the days of the Roman Empire, the study of 
grammar was, and never ceased to be, the basis of the 

1 Cf. post, Chapter XXXIV. and XXXVIII. 


conscious and rational knowledge of the Latin tongue. The 
Roman boys studied it at Rome ; the Latin -speaking 
provincials studied it, and all people of education who 
remained in the lands of western Europe which once had 
formed part of the Empire ; its study was renewed under 
Charlemagne ; he and Alcuin and all the scholars of the 
ninth century were deeply interested in what to them 
represented tangible Latinity, and in fact was to be a chief 
means by which their mediaeval civilization should maintain 
its continuity with its source. For grammar was most 
instrumental in preserving mediaeval Latin from violent 
deflections, which would have left the ancient literature as 
the literature of a forgotten tongue. Had mediaeval Latin* 
failed to keep itself veritable Latin ; had it instead suffered 
transmutation into local Romance dialects, the Latin classics, 
and all that hung from them, might have become as unknown 
to the Middle Ages as the Greek, and even have been lost 
forever. It was the study of Latin grammar, with classic 
texts to illustrate its rules, that kept Latin Latin, and 
preserved standards of universal usage throughout western 
Europe, by which one language was read and spoken 
everywhere by educated people. From century to century 
this language suffered modification, and varied according to 
the knowledge and training of those who used it ; yet its 
changes were never such as to destroy its identity as a 
language, or prevent the Latin writer of one age or country 
from understanding whatever in any land or century had 
been written in that perennial tongue. 

Therefore fortunately, as the Carolingian scholars studied 
Latin grammar, so likewise did those of all succeeding 
mediaeval generations, thereby holding themselves to at 
least a homogeneity, though not an unvarying uniformity, of 
usage. Evidently, however, the method of grammatical 
instruction had to vary with the needs of the learners and 
the teachers' skiU. The Romans prattled Latin on their 
mothers' knees ; and so, with gradually widening deflections, 
did the Latinized provincials. Neither Roman nor Provincial 
prattled Ciceronian periods, or used quite the vocabulary of 
Virgil ; yet it was Latin that they talked. Thenceforward 
there was to be a difference between the people who lived in 


countries where Romance dialects had emerged from the 
spoken Latin and prevailed, and those people who spoke a 
Teuton speech. Although always drawing away, the natal 
speech of Romance peoples was so like Latin, that in learning 
it they seemed rather to correct their vulgar tongue than to 
acquire a new language. So it was in the Christian parts of 
Spain, in Gaul, and, above all, in Italy, where the vulgar 
dialects were tardiest in taking distinctive form. Never- 
theless, as the Romance dialects, for instance in the coimtry 
north of the Loire, developed into the various forms of 
what is called Old French, young people at school would have 
to learn Latin as a quasi-foreign tongue. Across the Rhine 
in Germany boys ordinarily had to learn it at school, as a 
strange language, just as they must to-day ; and every effort 
was devoted to this end.^ It was not likely that the grammars 
composed for Roman boys, or at least for boys who spoke 
Latin from their infancy, would altogether meet the needs of 
German, or even French, youth. Yet only gradually and 
slowly in the Middle Ages were grammars put together to 
make good the insufficiencies of Donatus and Priscian. 

The former was the teacher of St. Jerome. He 
composed a short work, in the form of questions and 
answers, explaining the eight parts of speech, but giving no 
rules of gender, or forms of declension and conjugation, 
needed for the instruction of those who, unlike the Roman 
youth, could not speak the language. This little book went 
by the name of the Ars minor. The same grammarian 
composed a more extensive work, the third book of which 
was called the Barbarismus, after its opening chapter. It 
defined the figures of speech [figurae, locutiones), and was 
much used through the mediaeval period. 

The Ars minor explained in simple fashion the elements 
of speech. But the Institutiones grammaticae of Priscian, a 

^ Of. Specht, Geschichte des Unterrichtswesens in Deutschland, etc. (Stutt- 
gard, 1885), p. 75 and^ passim. 

Yet how soon and with what childish prattle youths might begin to speak 
and write Latin is touchingly shown by a boy's letter, written from a monastic 
school, to his parents. It just asks for various little things, and its superscription 
is : " Parentibus suis A. agnus ablactatus pium balatum " : which seems to 
mean : " To his parents, A, a weaned lamb, sends a loving bah." This and 
other curious little letters are ascribed to one Robertus Metensis (dr. a.d. 900) 
Migne 132, col. 533). 


contemporary of Cassiodonis, offered a mine of knowledge. 
Of its eighteen books the first sixteen were devoted to the 
parts of speech and their forms, considered under the 
variations of gender, declension, and conjugation. The 
remaining two treated of constructio or syntax. As early as 
the tenth century Priscian was separated into these two 
parts, which came to be known as Priscianus major and 
minor. The Priscian manuscripts, whose name is legion, 
usually present the former. Diffuse in language, confused 
in arrangement, and overladen perhaps with its thousands of 
examples, it was berated for its labyrinthine qualities even in 
the Middle Ages ; yet its sixteen books remained the chief 
source of etymological knowledge. Priscianus minor was 
less widely used. 

The grammarians of the ninth, tenth, and eleventh 
centuries followed Donatus and Priscian, making extracts 
from their works, or abridgements, and now and then 
introducing examples of deviation from the ancient usage. 
The last came usually from the Vulgate text of Scripture, 
which sometimes departed from the idioms or even word- 
forms approved by the old authorities.^ The Ars minor of 
Donatus became enveloped in commentaries ; but Priscian 
was so formidable that in these early centuries he was 
merely glossed, that is, annotated in brief marginal 

It would be tedious to dweU upon mediaeval 
grammatical studies. But the tendencies characterizing 
them in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries may be in- 
dicated briefly. The substance of the Priscianus major 
was followed by mediaeval grammarians. That is to say, 
while admitting certain novelties,^ they adhered to its 
rules and examples relating to the forms of words, their 
declension and conjugation. But the Priscianus minor, 
although used, was departed from. In the first place its 

^ See Thurot, Histoire des doctrines grammaticales au moyen age ; Notices et 
extraits des MSS. vol. 22, part 2, p. 85. For what is said in the preceding and 
following pages the writer's obligations are deep to this well-known work of 
Thurot, and to Reichling's edition of the Doctrinale of Alexander de VUla-Dei 
{Man. Germ, paedagogica, XII., Berlin, 1893). Paetow's Arts Course at Medieval 
Universities (University of Illinois, 1910) treats learnedly of these matters. 

2 See Thurot, o.c. p. 204 sqq. 


treatment of its subject (s5mtax) was confused and 
inadequate. There was, however, a broader reason for seek- 
ing rules elsewhere. Mediaeval Latin, in its progress as a 
living or quasi-living language, departed from the classical 
norms far more in syntax and composition than in word- 
forms. The latter continued much the same as in antiquity. 
But the popular and so to speak Romance tendencies of 
mediaeval Latin brought radical changes of word-order and 
style, which worked back necessarily upon the rules of 
S5nitax. These had been but hazily stated by the old 
writers, and the task of constructing an adequate Latin 
syntax remained undone. It was a task of vital importance 
for the preservation of the Latin tongue. Word - forms 
alone will not preserve the continuity of a language ; it is 
essential that their use in speech and writing should be kept 
congruous through appropriate principles of syntax. Such 
were intelligently formulated by mediaeval grammarians. 
The result was not exactly what it would have been had 
the task been carried out in the fourth century : yet it has 
endured in spite of the attacks, pseudo-attacks indeed, of 
the cinquecento ; and the mediaeval treatment of Latin 
S3nitax is the basis of the modem treatment. One may 
add that syntax or construcfio was taken broadly as 
embracing not only the agreements of number and gender, 
and the governing ^ of cases, but also the order of words 
in a sentence, which had changed so utterly between the 
time of Cicero and Thomas Aquinas. 

These general statements find illustration in the famous 
Doctrinale of Alexander de Villa-Dei, whose author was 
born in Normandy in the latter half of the twelfth century. 
He studied at Paris, and in course of time was summoned 
by the Bishop of Dol to instruct his nepotes in grammar. 
While acting as their tutor, he appears to have helped 
their memory by setting his rules in rhyme ; and the bishop 
asked him to write a Summa of grammar in some such 
fashion. Complying, he composed the Doctrinale in the 
year 1199, putting his work into leonine or rhyming 
hexameter, to make it easier to memorize. Rarely has a 
school-book met with such success. It soon came into use 

1 Regere, a mediaeval term not used in this sense by Priscian. 


in Paris and elsewhere, and for some three hundred years 
was the common manual of grammatical teaching through- 
out western Europe. It was then attacked and apparently 
driven from the field by the so-called Humanists, who, 
however, failed to offer anything better in its place, and 
plagiarized from the work which they professed to 
execrate. 1 

The etymological portions of the Doctrinale follow the 
teachings of the Priscianus major ; the part devoted to 
S3mtax, or constructio, shows traces of the influence of the 
Priscianus minor. But Alexander's treatment of syntax is 
more systematic and elaborate than Priscian's ; and he did 
not hesitate to defer to the Vulgate and other Christian 
Latin writings. Thus he made his work conform to con- 
temporary usage, which its purpose was to set forth. He 
did the same in the section on Prosody, in which he says 
that the ancient metricians distinguished a number of feet 
no longer used, and he will confine himself to six — the 
dactyl, spondee, trochee, anapaest, iambus, and tribrach. ^ In 
contradiction to classical usage he condemns elision ; ^ and 
in his chapter on accent he throws over the ancient rules : 

" Accentus normas legitur posuisse vetustas ; 
Non tamen has credo servandas tempore nostro.'* 

Alexander was not really an innovator. He followed 
previous grammarians in condemning elision, and in what he 
says of quantity and accent. In his syntax he endeavoured 
to set forth rules conforming to the best Latin usage of 
his time, like other mediaeval grammarians before him. 
He was indeed vehement in his advocacy of recent and 
Christian authors as standards of writing, and he in- 
veighed against the scholars of Orleans, who read the 
Classics, and would have us sacrifice to the gods and 
observe the indecent festivals of Faunus and Jove.^ But 

^ See the Einleitung to Reichling's edition of the Doctrinale ahready referred 
to; also Thurot, De AlexandH de Villa-Dei dodrinali (Paris, 1850). The chief 
mediaeval rival of the Doctrinale was the Graecismus of Eberhard of Bethune, 
written a little later. See Paetow, o.c. p. 38. 

^ Doctrinale, line 1561 sqq. 

^ Doctrinale, 1603 sqq. 

* Doctrinale, 2330-2331. 

^ See passage in Reichling's Einleitung, p. xxvii. 


others defended the Orleans school, and perhaps still 
regarded the Classics as the best arbiters of grammar 
and eloquence. There exist thirteenth-century grammars 
which follow Priscian more closely than Alexander 
does.^ Yet his work represents the dominant tendencies 
of his time. 

Twelfth and thirteenth century grammarians recom- 
mended to their pupils a variety of reading, in which 
mediaeval and early Christian compositions held as large 
a place as Virgil and Ovid. The Doctrinale advocates no 
work more emphatically than Petrus Riga's Aurora, a 
versified paraphrase of Scripture. Its author was a chorister 
in Rheims, and died in 1209.2 The works of scholastic 
philosophers were not cited as frequently as the com- 
positions of verse-writers ; yet mediaeval grammarians were 
influenced by the language of philosophy, and drew from 
its training principles which they applied to their own 
science. Grammar could not help becoming dialectical when 
the intellectual world was turning to logic and metaphysics. 
Commencing in the twelfth century, overmasteringly in the 
thirteenth, logic penetrated grammar and compelled an 
application of its principles. Often grammarians might 
better have looked to linguistic usage than to dialectic ; yet 
if grammar was to become a rational science, it had to 
systematize itself through principles of logic, and make use 
of dialectic in its endeavour to state a reason for its rules. 
Those who applied logic to grammar at least endeavoured 
to distinguish between the two, not always fruitfully. But 
a real difference could not fail to assert itself inasmuch as 
logic was in truth of universal application, while mediaeval 
grammar never ceased to be the grammar of the Latin 
language. Nevertheless its terminology was largely drawn 
from logic. ^ 

So dialectic brought both good and ill, proving itself 
helpful in the regulation of sjmtax, but banefuUy affecting 
grammarians with the conviction that language was the 

^ See e.g. Une Grammaire latine inidite du XIIP Steele, par Ch. Fierville 
(Paris, 1886). 

2 See Reichling, o.c. Einleitung, p. xix ; Thurot, Not. et extr. xxii. 2, p. 112 sqq. 
' See e.g. Thurot, o.c. p. 176 sqq. ; p. 216 sqq. 


creature of reason, and must conform to principles of logic. 
One likewise notes with curious interest, that, from their 
dialectic training, apparently, grammarians first found as 
many species of grammar as languages, ^ and then forsook 
this idea for the view that, in order to be a science, grammar 
must be universal, or, as they phrased it, one, and must 
possess principles not applicable specially to Greek or Latin, 
but to congruous construction in the abstract ; " de constructione 
congrua secundum quod abstrahit'ab omni lingua speciali," 
are the words of the English thirteenth-century philosopher 
and grammarian, Robert Kilwardby.^ A like idea affected 
Roger Bacon, who composed a Greek grammar,^ which 
appears to have been intended as the first part of a work 
upon the grammars of the learned languages other than 
Latin. It was adapted to afford a grounding in the elements 
of Greek : yet it touches matters in a way showing that 
the writer had thought deeply on the affinities of languages 
and the common principles of grammar. Of this the follow- 
ing passage is evidence : 

" Therefore, because I wish to treat of the properties of Greek 
grammar, it should be known that there are differences in the 
Greek language, to be hereafter noted in giving the names of these 
dialects {idiomata). And I call them idiomata and not linguas, 
because they are not different languages, but different properties 
which are peculiarities {idiomata) of the same language.'* Wishing 
to set forth Greek grammar, for the use of the Latins, it is 
necessary to compare it with Latin grammar, because I commonly 
speak Latin myself, seeing that the crowd does not know Greek ; 
also because grammar is of one and the same substance in all 
languages, although varying in its non-essentials {accidentaliter) ; 
also because Latin grammar in a certain special way is derived 
from Greek, as Priscian says, and other grammarians." ^ 

1 Thurot, o.c. pp. 126-127. * Thurot,o.c. p. 127. 

^ The Greek Grammar of Roger Bacon, ed. by Nolan and Hirsch (Cambridge, 

* Bacon defines idioma " as the determined peculiarity (proprietas) of lan- 
guage, which one gens uses after its custom ; and another gens uses another 
idioma of the same language " {Greek Grammar, p. 26). Dialect is the modern 

* Greek Grammar, p. 27. Bacon appears to have followed Priscian chiefly. 
As to whether he used Byzantine models, or other sources, see the Introduction 
to Nolan and Hirsch's edition of the Greek Grammar. These thoughts inspiring 
Bacon's Grammar became a veritable metaphysics in the Grammatica speculativa 
ascribed to Duns Scotus, see post, Chapter XLIII. 


The dialecticizing of grammar took place in the north, 
under influences radiating from Paris, the chief dialectic 
centre. These did not deeply affect grammatical studies 
in Italy, or in the Midi of Fance, which in some respects 
exhibited like intellectual tendencies. Grammar was 
zealously studied in Italy, but it did not there become 
either speculative or dialectical. To be sure, northern 
manuals were used, especially the Doctrinale ; but the study 
remained practical, an art rather than a science, and its 
chief element, or end, was the ars dictaminis or dictandi. 
The grammatical treatises of Italians were treatises upon 
this art of epistolary composition and the proper ways of 
drawing documents. These works were studied also in 
the North, where the ars dictaminis was by no means 

Latin grammar, although over-dialecticized in the 
North, and in Italy made very practical, remained of 
necessity the foundation of classical studies, and of mediaeval 
literary effort, in prose and verse. As the basis of liberal 
studies, it had no truer home than the cathedral school of 
Chartres.^ Contemporary writers picture the manner in 
which this study was there made to perform its most liberal 
office, under favourable mediaeval conditions, in the first 
half of the twelfth century. The time antedates the 
Doctrinale, and one notes at once that the Chartrian 
masters used the ancient grammatical authorities. This 
is shown by the Eptateuchon of Thierry, who was head- 
master {scholasticus) and then Chancellor there for a number 
of years between 1120 and 1150. As its name implies, 
the work was a manual, or rather an encyclopaedia, of the 
Seven Arts. Thierry compiled it from the writings of the 
" chief doctors on the arts." He transcribed the Ars minor 
of Donatus and then portions of his larger work. Having 

^ Cf. L. Rockinger, " Die Ars Dictandi in Italien," Sitzungsber. bayerisch. 
Akad., 1861, pp. 98-151. For examples of these dictamina, see L. Delisle, " Dicta- 
mina Magistri Berardi de Neapoli " (a papal notary equally versed in law and 
rhetoric), Notices et extraits des MSS., etc., vol. 27, part 2, p. 87 sqq. ; Ch. V. 
Langlois, " Formulaires de lettres," etc., Not. et ext. vol. 32 (2), p. i sqq. ; ibid. 
vol. 34 (i), p. I sqq. and p. 305 sqq. and vol. 35 (2), p. 409 sqq. 

^ For the history of this school in the eleventh century, see ante, Chapter 


commended this author for his conciseness and subtilty, 
Thierry next copied out the whole of Priscian. As text- 
books for the second branch of the Trivium, he gives 
Cicero's De inventione rhetorica libri 2, Rhetoricorum ad 
Herennium libri ^, De partitione oratoria dialogus, and con- 
cludes with the rhetorical writings of Martianus Capella 
and J. Severianus.^ 

So much for the books. Now for the method of teach- 
ing as described by John of Salisbury. He gives the 
practice of Bernard of Chartres, Thierry's elder brother, 
^who was scholasticus and Chancellor before him, in the 
first quarter of the twelfth century. John has been advocat- 
ing the study of grammar as the fundamentum atque radix 
of those exercises by which virtue and philosophy are 
reached ; and he is advising a generous reading of the 
Classics by the student, and their constant use by the 
professor, to illustrate his teaching. 

" This method was followed by Bernard of Chartres, exundissi- 
mus modernis temporibus fons Utteranmi in Gallia. By citations 
from the authors he showed what was simple and regular ; he 
brought into relief the grammatical figures, the rhetorical colours, 
the artifices of sophistry, and pointed out how the text in hand 
bore upon other studies ; not that he sought to teach everything 
in a single session, for he kept in mind the capacity of his audience. 
He inculcated correctness and propriety of diction, and a fitting 
use of congruous figures. Reahzing that practise strengthens 
memory and sharpens faculty, he urged his pupils to imitate 
what they had heard, inciting some by admonitions, others by 
whipping and penalties. Each pupil recited the next day some- 
thing from what he had heard on the preceding. The evening 
exercise, called the declinatio, was filled with such an abundance 
of grammar that any one, of fair intelligence, by attending it for 
a year, would have at his fingers' ends the art of writing and 
speaking, and would know the meaning of aU words in common 
use. But since no day and no school ought to be vacant of religion, 
Bernard would select for study a subject edifying to faith and 
morals. The closing part of this declinatio, or rather philo- 
sophical recitation, was stamped with piety : the souls of the 

1 The Eptateuchon exists in manuscript. I have taken the above from Clerval, 
Les Scales de Chartres au moyen age (Chartres, 1895), p. 221 sqq. Thierry appears 
to have written a commentary on Cicero's Rhetoric. See Milanges Graux, pp. 


dead were commended, a penitential Psalm was recited, and the 
Lord's Prayer. 

" For those boys who had to write exercises in prose or verse, 
he selected the poets and orators, and showed how they should 
be imitated in the linking of words and the elegant ending of 
passages. If any one sewed another's cloth into his garment, he 
was reproved for the theft, but usually was not punished. Yet 
Bernard gently pointed out to awkward borrowers that whoever 
imitated the ancients (majores) should himself become worthy of 
imitation by posterity. He impressed upon his pupils the virtue 
of economy, and the values of things and words : he explained 
where a meagreness and tenuity of diction was fitting, and where 
copiousness or even excess should be allowed, and the advantage 
of due measure everywhere. He admonished them to go through 
the histories and poems with diligence, and daily to fix passages 
in their memory. He advised them, in reading, to avoid the 
superfluous, and confine themselves to the works of distinguished 
authors. For, he said (quoting from Quintilian) that to follow 
out what every contemptible person has said, is irksome and 
vainglorious, and destructive of the capacity which should 
remain free for better things. To the same effect he cited 
Augustine, and remarked that the ancients thought it a virtue 
in a grammarian to be ignorant of something. But since in 
school exercises nothing is more useful than to practise what 
should be accomplished by the art, his scholars wrote daily in 
prose and verse, and proved themselves in discussions." ^ 

This passage indicates with what generous use of the 
auctores Bernard expounded grammar and explained the 
orators and poets ; how he assigned portions of their works 
for memorizing, and with what care he corrected his pupils' 
prose and metrical compositions, criticizing their know- 
ledge and their taste. He was a man mindful of his 
Christian piety toward the dead and living, but caring 
greatly for the Classics, and loving study. " The old man 
of Chartres {senex Carnotensis) ," says John of Salisbury, 
meaning Bernard, " named wisdom's keys in a few lines, 
and though I am not taken with the sweetness of the 
metre, I approve the sense : 

" 'Mens humilis, studium quaerendi, vita quieta, 
Scrutinium taciturn, paupertas, terra aliena, 
Haec reserare solent multis obscura legendo.' "^ 

1 Metalogicus, i. cap. xxiv. (Migne, Pat. Lat. 199, col. 853-856). 
* Policraticus, vii. 13 (Webb i, p. 145 ; Migne 199, col. 666). 


Bernard, Thierry, and other masters and scholars of 
their school, as the advocates of classical education, detested 
the men called by John of Salisbury Cornificiani, who 
were for shortening the academic course, as one would say 
to-day, so that the student might finish it up in two or 
three years, and proceed to the business of life. A good 
many in the twelfth century adopted this notion, and turned 
from the pagan classics, not as impious, but as a waste 
of time. Some of the good scholars of Chartres lost heart, 
among them William of Conches and a certain Richard, 
both teachers of John of Salisbury. They had followed 
Bernard's methods ; " but when the time came that so many 
men, to the great prejudice of truth, preferred to seem, 
rather than be, philosophers and professors of the arts, 
engaging to impart the whole of philosophy in less than 
three years, or even two, then my masters vanquished by 
the clamour of the ignorant crowd, stopped. Since then, 
less time has been given to grammar. So it has come 
about that those who profess to teach all the arts, both 
liberal and mechanical, are ignorant of the first of them, 
without which vainly will one try to get the rest." ^ 

Upon these people who seemed charlatans, and yet may 
have represented tendencies of the coming time, Thierry, 
Gilbert de la Porree,^ and John of Salisbury poured their 
sarcasms. The controversy may have clarified Bernard's 
consciousness of the value of classical studies and deepened 
his sense of obligation to the ancients, until it drew from 
him perhaps the finest of mediaeval utterances touching the 
matter : " Bernard of Chartres used to say that we were like 
dwarfs seated on the shoulders of giants. If we see more 
and further than they, it is not due to our own clear eyes or 
tall bodies, but because we are raised on high and upborne 
by their gigantic bigness." ^ 

Echoes of this same controversy — have they ever quite 

1 Metalogicus, i. 24 (Migne 199, col. 856). The name seems to have been 
taken from Cornificius, a detractor of Virgil in Donatus, Vita Vergilii xvii. 65, 
xviii. 76, or possibly from Cornificius, a rhetorician cited by Quintilian and 
regarded by some as the author of the treatise Ad Herennium, which advocated 
a briefer course of study. 

* Of. Clerval, o.c. p. 211 sgq. and p. 227 sqq. 

* Metalogicus, iii. 4 (Migne 199, col. 900). 


died away ? — are heard in letters of the scholarly Peter of 
Blois, who was educated at Paris in the middle of the twelfth 
century, became a secretary of Henry Plantagenet and spent 
the greater part of his life in England, dying about the year 
1200. He writes to a friend : 

" You greatly commend your nephew, saying that never have 
you found a man of subtler vein ; because, forsooth, skimming 
over grammar, and skipping the reading of the classical authors, 
he has flown to the trickeries of the logicians, where not in the 
books themselves but from abstracts and note-books, he has 
learned dialectic. Knowledge of letters cannot rest on such, and 
the subtilty you praise may be pernicious. For Seneca says, 
nothing is more odious than subtilty when it is only subtilty. 
Some people, without the elements of education, would discuss 
point and line and superficies, fate, chance and free-will, physics 
and matter and the void, the causes of things and the secrets of 
nature and the sources of the Nile ! Our tender years used to be 
spent in rules of grammar, analogies, barbarisms, solecisms, 
tropes, with Donatus, Priscian, and Bede, who would not have 
devoted pains to these matters had they supposed that a soUd 
basis of knowledge could be got without them. Quintilian, 
Caesar, Cicero, urge youths to study grammar. Why condemn 
the writings of the ancients ? it is written that in antiquis est 
scientia. You rise from the darkness of ignorance to the light of 
science only by their diligent study. Jerome glories in having 
read Origen ; Horace boasts of reading Homer over and over. 
It was much to my profit, when as a httle chap I was studying 
how to make verses, that, as my master bade me, I took my 
matter not from fables but from truthful histories. And I 
profited from the letters of Hildebert of Le Mans, with their 
elegance of style and sweet urbanity ; for as a boy I was made 
to learn some of them by heart. Besides other books, well 
known in the schools, I gained from keeping company with 
Trogus Pompeius, Josephus, Suetonius, Hegesippus, Quintus 
Curtius, Tacitus, and Livy, all of whom throw into their histories 
much that makes for moral edification and the advance of 
liberal science. And I read other books, which had nothing to 
do with history — very many of them. From all of them we may 
pluck sweet flowers, and cultivate ourselves from their urbane 
suavity of speech." ' 

In another letter Peter writes to his bishop of Bath, as 
touching the accusation of some " hidden detractor," that he, 

1 Petrus Blesensis, Epist. loi (Migne 207, col. 312). 


Peter, is but a useless compiler, who fills letters and sermons 
with the plunder of the ancients and Holy Writ : 

" Let him cease, or he will hear what he does not hke ; for I 
am full of cracks, and can hold in nothing, as Terence says. Let 
him try his hand at compiling, as he calls it. — But what of it ! 
Though dogs may bark and pigs may grunt, I shall always pattern 
on the writings of the ancients ; with them shall be my occu- 
pation ; nor ever, while I am able, shall the sun find me idle." ^ 

It is evident how broadly Peter of Blois, or John of 
Salisbury, or the Chartrians, were read in the Latin Classics. 
Peter mentions even Tacitus, a writer not thought to have 
been much read in the Middle Ages. We have been looking 
at the matter rather in regard to poetry and eloquence — 
belles lettres. But one may also note the same broad 
reading (among the few who read at all) on the part of those 
who sought for the ethical wisdom of the ancients. This is 
apparent (perhaps more apparent than real) with Abaelard, 
who is ready with a store of antique ethical citations. ^ It 
is also borne witness to by the treatise Moralis philosophia 
de honesio et utili, placed among the works of Hildebert of 
Le Mans,^ but probably from the pen of William of Conches, 
grammaticus post Bernardum Carnotensem opulentissimus, 
as John of Salisbury calls him.* In some manuscripts it is 
entitled Summa moralium philosophorum, quite appropriately. 
One might hardly compare it for organic inclusiveness with 
the Christian Summa of Thomas Aquinas ; but it may very 
well be likened to the more compact Sentences of the 
Lombard ^ which were so solidly put together about the 
same time. The Lombard drew his Sentences from the 
writings of the Church Fathers ; William's work consists of 
moral extracts, mainly from Cicero, Seneca, Sallust, Terence, 
Horace, Lucan, and Boethius. The first part, De honesto, 
reviews Prudentia, Justitia, Fortitudo, and under these a 
number of particular virtues in correspondence with which 
the extracts are arranged. The De utili considers the 
adventitious goods of circumstance and fortune. 

1 Epist. 92 (Migne 207, col. 289). These letters are cited by Clerval. 

2 See post, Chapter XXXVII., i. 

* Migne, Pcd. Lot. 171, col. 1007-1056. 

* Metalogicus, i. 5. ^ See post, Chapter XXXVI., i. 



The extracts forming the substance of this work were 
intelligently selected and smoothly joined ; and the treatise 
was much used by those who studied the antique philosophy 
of life. It was drawn upon, for instance, by that truculent 
and well-bom Welshman, Giraldus Cambrensis, in his De 
instrucUone principum, which the author wrote partly to show 
how evilly Henry Plantagenet performed the functions of a 
king. This irrepressible claimant of St. David's See had 
been long a prickly thorn for Henry's side.^ But he was a 
scholar, and quotes from the whole range of the Latin 


When a man is not a mere transcriber, but puts something 
of himself into the product of his pen, his work will reflect 
his personality, and may disclose the various factors of his 
spiritual constitution. To discover from the writings of 
mediaeval scholars the effect of their classical studies upon 
their characters is of greater interest than to trace from their 
citations the authors read by them. Such a compilation as 
the Summa moralium which has just been noticed, while 
plainly disclosing the latter information, tells nothing of the 
personality of him who strung the extracts together. Yet 
he had read writings which could hardly have failed to 
influence him. Cicero and Seneca do not leave their reader 
unchanged, especially if he be seeking ethical instruction. 
And there was a work known to this particular compiler 
which moved men in the Middle Ages. Deep must have 
been the effect of that book so widely read and pondered on 
and loved, the De consolatione of Boethius with its intimate 
consolings, its ways of reasoning and looking upon life, its 
setting of the intellectual above the physical, its insistence 
that mind rather than body makes the man. Imagine it 
brought home to a vigorous struggling personality — ^imagine 
Alfred reading and translating it, and adding to it from the 
teachings of his own experience. ^ The study of such a book 
might form the turning of a mediaeval life ; at least could 

1 The works of Giraldus Cambrensis are published in Master of Rolls Series, 
21, in eight volumes. The last contains the De instrucUone principum. Giraldus 
lived from about 1147 to 1220. ^ Ante, Chapter VIII. 


not fail to temper the convulsions of a soul storm-driven 
amid unreconcilable spiritual conflicts. 

One may look back even to the time of Alfred or 
Charlemagne and note suggestions coming from classical 
reading. For instance, the antique civilization being 
essentially urban, words denoting qualities of disciplined and 
polished men had sprung from city life, as contrasted with 
rustic rudeness. Thus the word urbanitas passed over into 
mediaeval use when the quality itself hardly existed outside 
of the transmitted Latin literature. For an Anglo-Saxon or 
a Frank to use and even partly comprehend its significance 
meant his introduction to a new idea. Alcuin writeslto 
Charlemagne that he knows how it rejoices the latter to 
meet with zeal for learning and church discipline, and how 
pleasing to him is anything which is seasoned with a touch 
of wit — urhanitatis sale conditum} And again, in more 
curious phrase, he compliments a certain worthy upon his 
metrical exposition of the creed, " wherein I have found 
gold-spouting whirlpools {aurivomos gurgites) of spiritual 
meanings abounding with gems of scholastic wit [scholasticae 
urhanitatis)." ^ Though doubtless this " scholastic wit " was 
flat enough, it was something for these men to get the notion 
of what was witty and entertaining through a word so 
vocalized with city life as urbanitas, a word that we have 
seen used quite knowingly by the more sophisticated scholar, 
Peter of Blois. 

Again, it is matter of common observation that a 
feeling for nature's loveliness depends somewhat on the 
growth of towns. But mediaeval men constantly had the 
idea suggested to them by the classic poetry of city-dwelling 
poets. Here are some lines by Alcuin or one of his friends, 
expressing sentiments which never came to them from the 
woods with which they were disagreeably familiar : 

" O mea cella, mihi habitatio, dulcis, amata. 
Semper in aeternum, o mea cella, vale. 
Undique te cingit ramis resonantibus arbos, 
Silvula florigeris semper onusta comis." ^ 

'^ Alcuin, Ep. 80 (Migne loo, col. 260). 

* Alcuin, Ep. 113, ad Paulinum patriarcham (Migne 100, col. 341). 

* Traube, Poetae Lat. Aevi CaroUni {Mon. Germ.), 1, p. 243. Of. " Versus ja 
laude Larii laci," by Paulus Diaconus, ibid. p. 42. 


These are little hints of the effect of the antique literature 
upon men who still were somewhat rough-hewn. Advancing 
a century and a half, the influence of classic study is seen, 
as it were, " in the round " in Gerbert,^ It is likewise clear 
and full in John of Salisbury, of whom we have spoken, and 
shall speak again. ^ For an admirable example, however, of 
the subtle working of the antique literature upon character 
and temperament, we may look to that scholar-prelate 
whose letters the youthful Peter of Blois studied with profit, 
Hildebert of Lavardin, Bishop of Le Mans, and Archbishop 
of Tours. He shows the effect of the antique not so 
strikingly in the knowledge which he possessed or the 
particular opinions which he entertained, as in the balance 
and temperance of his views, and incidentally in his fine 
facility of scholarship. 

Hildebert was born at Lavardin, a village near the 
mouth of the Loire, about the year 1055. He belonged to 
an unimportant but gentle family. Dubious tradition has it 
that one of his teachers was Berengar of Tours, and that he 
passed some time in the monastery of Cluny, of whose great 
abbot, Hugh, he wrote a life. It is more probable that he 
studied at Le Mans. But whatever appears to have been 
the character of his early environment, Hildebert belongs 
essentially to the secular clergy, and never was a monk. 
While comparatively young, he was made head of the 
cathedral school of Le Mans, and then archdeacon. In the 
year 1096, the old bishop of'Le Mans died, and Hildebert, 
then about forty years of age, was somewhat quickly chosen 
his successor, by the clergy and people of the town, in spite 
of the protests of certain of the canons of the cathedral. 
The none too happy scholar-bishop found himself at once a 
powerless but not negligible element of a violently com- 
plicated feudal situation. There was the noble Helias, 
Count of Maine, who was holding his domain against Robert 
de Bellesme, the latter slackly supported by William Rufus 
of England, who claimed the overlordship of the land. 
Helias reluctantly acquiesced in Hildebert's election. Not 
so Rufus, who never ceased to hate and persecute the man 
that had obtained the see which had been in the gift of his 

* Ante, Chapter XII. 2 Post, Chapter XXXVII., iii. 


father, William the Conqueror. It happened soon after that 
Count Helias was taken prisoner by his opponent, and was 
delivered over to Rufus at Rouen. But Fulk of Anjou now 
thrust himself into this feudal melee, appeared at Le Mans, 
entered, and was acknowledged as its lord. He left a garri- 
son, and departed before the Red King reached the town. 
The latter began its siege, but soon made terms with Fulk, by 
which Le Mans was to be given to Rufus, Helias was to 
be set free, and many other matters were left quite un- 

Now Rufus entered the town (1098), where Hildebert 
nervously received him ; Helias, set free by the King, offered 
to become his feudal retainer ; Rufus would have none of 
him ; so Helias defied the King, and was permitted to go his 
way by that strange man, who held his knightly honour sacred, 
but otherwise might commit any atrocity prompted by rage 
or greed. It was well for Helias that trouble with the French 
King now drew Rufus to the north. The next year, 1099, 
Rufus in England heard that the Count had renewed the 
war, and captured Le Mans, except the citadel. He hurried 
across the channel, rushed through the land, entered Le 
Mans, and passed on through it, chasing Helias. But the 
war languished, and Rufus returned to Le Mans, or to what 
was left of it. Hildebert had cause to tremble. He had 
met the King on the latter' s hurried arrival from England 
for the war. Rufus had spoken him fair. But now, at Le 
Mans, he was accused before the monarch of complicity in 
the revolt. Quickly flared the King's anger against the man 
whom he had never ceased to detest. He ordered him to 
pull down the towers of his cathedral, which rose threaten- 
ing and massive over the city's ruins and the citadel of the 
King. What could the defenceless bishop do to avert 
disgrace and the desolation of his beloved church ? Words 
were left him, but they did not prove effectual. Rufus 
commanded him to choose between immediate compliance 
and going to England, there to submit himself to the judg- 
ment of the English bishops. He accepted the latter 
alternative, and followed the King, leaving his diocese ruined 
and his people dispersed. In England, Rufus dangled him 
along between fear and hope, till at last the disheartened 


prelate returned to the Continent, having ambiguously 
consented to pull down those towers. But instead, he set to 
work to repair the devastation of his diocese. The reiterated 
mandate of the King was not long in following him, and 
this time coupled with an accusation of treason. Hildebert's 
state was desperate. His clergy were forbidden to obey 
him, his palace was sacked, his own property destroyed. 
Such were William's methods of persuasion. Then the 
King proposed that the bishop should purge himself by the 
ordeal of hot iron. Hildebert, the bishop, the theologian, 
the scholar, was almost on the verge of taking up the 
challenge, when a letter from Yves, the saintly Bishop of 
Chartres, dissuaded him. At this moment, with ruin for his 
portion, and no escape, an arrow ended the Red King's life 
in the New Forest. It was the year of grace iioo. 

Now, what a change ! Henry Beauclerc was from the 
first his friend, as William Rufus to the last had been his 
enemy. Hitherto Hildebert has appeared weakly endeavour- 
ing to elude destruction, and perhaps with no unshaken 
loyalty in his bosom toward any cause except his dire 
necessities. Henceforth, sailing a calmer sea, he repays 
Henry's favour with adherence and admiration. He has no 
support to offer Anselm of Canterbury, still struggling with 
the English monarchy over investitures ; nor has he one 
word of censure for the clever cold-eyed scholar-King who 
kept his brother, Robert of Normandy, a prisoner for 
twenty-eight years till he died. 

Hildebert had still thirty years of life before him ; nor 
were they all to be untroubled. Shortly after the Red 
King's death, he made a voyage to Rome, to obtain the 
papal benediction. To judge from his poems, he was deeply 
impressed with the ruins of the ancient city. Returning, he 
devoted himself to the affairs of his diocese and to rebuilding 
the cathedral and other churches of Le Mans. In 1125, in 
spite of his unwillingness, for he was seventy years old, he 
was enthroned Archbishop of Tours, where he was to be 
worried by disputes with Louis le Gros of France over 
investitures. But he acquitted himself with vigour, especially 
through his letters. A famous one relates to this struggle 
of his closing years : 


" In adversity it is a comfort to hope for happier times. 
Long has this hope flattered me ; and as the corn in the blade 
cheers the countryman, the expectation of a fair season has 
comforted my soul. But now I no longer hope for the clearing 
of the cloudy weather, nor see where the storm-driven ship, on 
whose deck I sit, may gain the harbour of rest. 

" Friends are silent ; silent are the priests of Jesus Christ. 
And those also are silent through whose intercession I thought 
the king would be reconciled with me. I thought indeed, but in 
their silence the king has added to the pain of my wounds. 
Yet it was theirs through the canonical institutes to resist the 
injury to the Church. Theirs was it, if the matter had demanded 
it, to raise a wall before the house of Israel. Yet with the most 
serene king there is call for exhortation rather than threat, for 
advice rather than command, for instruction rather than the rod. 
By these he should have been met, by these reverently taught 
not to flesh his arrows in an aged priest, nor make void the 
canonical decrees, nor persecute the ashes of a church already 
buried, ashes in which I eat the bread of grief, in which I drink 
the cup of mourning, from which to be snatched away and escape 
is to pass from death to life. 

" Yet amid these straits, anger has never triumphed over 
me, that I should be willing to force the claim of the Lord, or 
wrest his peace with the strong hand and arm of the Church. 
Suspect is the peace to which high potentates are brought not by 
love, but by force. Easily is it broken, and sometimes the final 
state is worse than the first. There is another way by which, 
Christ leading, I can better reach it. I wiU cast my thought 
upon the Lord, and He will give me the desire of my heart. The 
Lord remembered Joseph, forgotten by Pharaoh's chief butler 
when prosperity had returned to him ; He remembered David 
abandoned by his own son. Perhaps he will remember even me, 
and bring the tossing ship to rest on the desired shore. He it is 
who looks upon the petition of the meek, and does not spurn 
their prayers. He it is in whose hand the hearts of kings are wax. 
If I shall have found grace in his eyes, I shall easily obtain the 
grace of the king or advantageously lose it. For to offend man 
for the sake of God is to win God's grace." 1 

Hildebert was a classical scholar, and in his time un- 
matched as a writer of Latin prose and verse. Many of his 
elegiac poems survive, some of them so antique in sentiment 
and so correct in metre as to have been taken for products 

1 Ep. ii. 33 (Migne 171, col. 256). For the Latin text of this letter see post, 
Chapter XXXII. p. 200. 


of the pagan period. One of the best is an elegy on Rome 
obviously inspired by his visit to that city of ruins : 
" Par tibi, Roma, nihil, cum sis prope tota ruina." 
Its closing lines are interesting : 

" Hie superftm formas superi mirantur et ipsi, 
Et cupiunt fictis vultibus esse pares. 
♦ Non potuit natura deos hoc ore creare 

Quo miranda deiim signa creavit homo. 
Vultus adest his numinibus, potiusque coluntur 

Artificum studio quam deitate sua. 
Urbs fehx, si vel dominis urbs ilia careret, 
Vel dominis esset turpe carere fide 1 " 

Such phrases, such frank admiration for the idols of 
pagan Rome, are startling from the pen of a contemporary 
of St. Bernard. The spell of the antique lay on Hildebert, 
as on others of his time. " The gods themselves marvel at 
their own images, and desire to equal their sculptured forms. 
Nature was unable to make gods with such visages as man 
has created in these wondrous images of the gods. There 
is a look (vultus) about these deities, and they are worshipped 
for the skill of- the sculptor rather than for their divinity." ^ 
Hildebert was not only a bishop, he was a Christian ; 
but the sense and feeling of ancient Rome had entered 
into him. Besides the poem just quoted, he wrote another, 
either in Rome or after his return. Christian in thought but 
most antique in sympathy and turn of phrase. 

" Dum simulacra mihi, dum numina vana placerent, 
Militia, populo, moenibus alta fui ; 

ruit alta senatus 
Gloria, procumbunt templa, theatra jacent." 

The antique feeling of these lines is hardly balanced by 
the expressed sentiment : " plus Caesare Petrus ! " ^ And 
again we hear the echo of the antique in 

" Nil artes, nil pura fides, nil gloria linguae. 
Nil fons ingenii, nil probitas sine re." ^ 

^ For the entire poem, which is of interest throughout, see post, Chapter 

' For the poem see Haureau, Melanges poetiques d'Hildebert de Lavardin, 
p. 64 (Paris, 1882). 

^ Haureau, o.c. p. 56. 


Hildebert has also a poem " On his Exile," perhaps 
written while in England with the Red King. Quite in 
antique style it sings the loss of friends and fields, gardens 
and granaries, which the writer possessed while prospera fata 
smiled. Then 

" J urates superos intra mea vota teneri ! " 

— a very antique sentiment. But the Christian faith of the 
despoiled and exiled bishop reasserts itself as the poem 
closes. 1 Did Hildebert also write the still more palpably 
" antique " elegiacs on Hermaphrodite, and other question- 
able subjects ? ^ That is hard to say. If, on the other hand, 
he wrote the following squib against a woman who seems 
to have sent him verses, he shows himself a master of popular 
verse as well as classic metre : 

" Femina perfida, femina sordida, digna catenis. 

" O miserabilis, insatiabilis, insatiata, 
Desine scribere, desine mittere, carmina blandia, 
Carmina turpia, carmina mollia, vix memoranda, 
Nee tibi mittere, nee tibi scribere, disposui me. 

" Mens tua vitrea, plumbea, saxea, ferrea, nequam, 
Fingere, fallere, prodere, perdere, rem putat aequam." ^ 

With all his classical leanings, the major part of 
Hildebert was Christian. His theological writings which 
survive, his zeal against certain riotous heretics, and in 
general his letters, leave no doubt of this. It is from the 
Christian point of view that he gives his sincerest counsels ; 
it is from that that he balances the advantages of an active 
or contemplative life, the claims of the Christian vita activa 
and vita contemplativa. Yet his classic tastes gave temper- 
ance to his Christian views, and often drew him to sheer 
scholarly pleasures and to an antique consideration of the 
incidents of life. 

How sweetly the elements were mixed in him appears 
in a famous letter written to William of Champeaux, that 
Goliath of realism whom Abaelard discomfited in the Paris 

1 Haureau, p. 82. * Ibid. p. 144. 

* Migne, Pat. Lat. 171, col. 1428. This volume of Migne also contains the 
poems criticized and (some of them) edited by Haureau in the book already 
referred to. 


schools. The unhappy William retreated a little way 
across the Seine, and laid the foundations of the abbey of 
St. Victor in the years between 1108 and 1113. He sought 
to abandon his studies and his lectures, and surrender himself 
to the austere salvation of his soul, and yet scarcely with such 
irrevocable purpose as would rebuff the temperate advice of 
Hildebert's letter proffered with tactful understanding. 

" Over thy change of life my soul is glad and exults, that at 
length it has come to thee to determine to philosophize. For 
thou hadst not the true odour of a philosopher so long as thou 
didst not cull beauty of conduct from thy philosophic knowledge. 
Now, as honey from the honeycomb, thou hast drawn from that 
a worthy rule of living. This is to gather all of thee within 
virtue's boundaries, no longer huckstering with nature for thy 
life, but attending less to what the flesh is able for, than to what 
the spirit wills. This is truly to philosophize ; to live thus is 
already to enter the fellowship of those above. Easily shalt 
thou come to them if thou dost advance disburdened. The mind 
is a burden to itself until it ceases to hope and fear. Because 
Diogenes looked for no favour, he feared the power of no one. 
What the cynic infidel abhorred, the Christian doctor far more 
amply must abhor, since his profession is so much more fruitful 
through faith. For such are stumbling-blocks of conduct, 
impeding those who move toward virtue. 

" But the report comes that you have been persuaded to 
abstain from lecturing. Hear me as to this. It is virtue to 
furnish the material of virtue. Thy new way of life calls for no 
partial sacrifice, but a holocaust. Offer thyself altogether to 
the Lord, since so He sacrificed Himself for thee. Gold shines 
more when scattered than when locked up. Knowledge also 
when distributed takes increase, and unless given forth, scorning 
the miserly possessor, it slips away. Therefore do not close the 
streams of thy learning." ^ 

Eventually William followed this, or other like advice. 
One sees Hildebert's sympathetic point of view ; he entirely 
approves of William's renunciation of the world — a good 
bishop of the twelfth century might also have wished to 
renounce its troublous honours ! Yes, William has at last 
turned to the true and most disburdened way of living. But 
this abandonment of worldly ends entails no abandonment 
of Christian knowledge or surrender of the cause of Christian 

^ Hildebert, Epis. i. i (Migne 171, col. 141). 


learning. Nay, let William resume, and herein give himself 
to God's will without reserve. 

So the letter presents a temperate and noble view of the 
matter, a view as sound in the twentieth century as in the 
twelfth. And a like broad consideration Hildebert brings to 
a more particular discussion of the two modes of Christian 
living, the vita activa and the vita contemplativa, Leah and 
Rachel, Martha and Mary. He amply distinguishes these 
two ways of serving God from any mode of life with selfish 
aims. It happened that a devout monk and friend of Hilde- 
bert was made abbot of the monastery of St. Vincent, in the 
neighbourhood of Le Mans. The administrative duties of 
an abbot might be as pressing as a bishop's, and this good 
man deplored his withdrawal from a life of more complete 
contemplation. So Hildebert wrote him a long discursive 
letter, of which our extracts will give the thread of argument : 

" You bewail the peace of contemplation which is snatched 
away, and the imposed burden of active responsibilities. You 
were sitting with Mary at the feet of the Lord Jesus, when lo, you 
were ordered to serve with Martha. You confess that those 
dishes which Mary receives, sitting and listening, are more savoury 
than those which zealous Martha prepares. In these, indeed, 
is the bread of men, in those the bread of angels." 

And Hildebert descants upon the raptures of the vita 
contemplativa, of which his friend is now bereft. 

" The contemplative and the active life, my dearest brother, 
you sometimes find in the same person, and sometimes apart. 
As the examples of Scripture show us. Jacob was joined to 
both Leah and Rachel ; Christ teaches in the fields, anon He 
prays on the mountains ; Moses is in the tents of the people, 
and again speaks with God upon the heights. So Peter, so 
Paul. Again, action alone is found, as in Leah and Martha, 
while contemplation gleams in Mary and Rachel. Martha, as 
I think, represents the clergy of our time, with whom the press 
of business closes the shrine of contemplation, and dries up the 
sacrifice of tears. 

" No one can speak with the Lord while he has to prattle 
with the whole world. Such a prattler am I, and such a priest, 
who when I spend the livelong day caring for the herds, have not 
a moment for the care of souls. Affairs, the enemies of my 
spirit, come upon me ; they claim me for their own, they thieve 


the private hour of prayer, they defraud the services of the 
sanctuary, they irritate me with their stings by day and infest 
my sleep ; and what I can scarcely speak of without tears, the 
creeping furtive memory of disputes follows me miserable to the 
altar's sacraments, — all such are even as the vultures which 
Abraham drove away from the carcases (Gen. xv. ii). 

" Nay more, what untold loss of virtue is entailed by these 
occupations of the captive mind ! While under their power we 
do not even serve with Martha. She ministered, but to Christ ; 
she bustled about, but for Christ. We truly, who hke Martha 
bustle about, and, like Martha, minister, neither bustle about for 
Christ nor minister to Him. For if in such busthng ministry thou 
seekest to win thine own desire, art taken with the gossip of the mob, 
or with pandering to carnal pleasures, thou art neither the Martha 
whom thou dost counterfeit nor the Mary for whom thou dost sigh. 

" In that case, dearest brother, you would have just cause for 
grief and tears. But if you do the part of Martha simply, you do 
well ; if, like Jacob, you hasten to and fro between Leah and 
Rachel, you do better ; if with Mary you sit and listen, you do 
best. For action is good, whose pressing instancy, though it kill 
contemplation, draws back the brother wandering from Christ. 
Yet it is better, sometimes seated, to lay aside administrative 
cares, and amid the irksome nights of Leah, draw fresh life from 
Rachel's loved embrace. From this intermixture the course to 
the celestials becomes more inclusive, for thereby the same soul 
now strives for the blessedness of men and anon participates in 
that of the angels. But of the zeal single for Mary, why should I 
speak ? Is not the Saviour's word enough, ' Mary hath chosen 
the best part, which shall not be taken from her.' " 

And in closing, Hildebert shows his friend the abbot that 
for him the true course is to follow Jacob interchanging 
Leah and Rachel ; and then in the watches of his pastoral 
duties the celestial vision shall be also his.^ 

Could any one adjust more fairly this contest, so insistent 
throughout the annals of mediaeval piety, between active 
duties and heavenly contemplation ? The only solution for 
abbot and bishop was to join Leah with Rachel. And how 
clearly Hildebert sees the pervasive peril of the active life, 
that the prelate be drawn to serve his pleasures and not 
Christ. Many souls of prelates had that cast into hell ! 

In theory Hildebert is clear as day, and altogether 
Christian, so far as we have followed the counsels of these 

^ Hildebert, Ep. i. 22 (Migne 171, col. 197). 


letters. But in fact the quiet life had for him a temptation, 
to which he yielded himself more generously than to any of 
the grosser lures of his high prelacy. This temptation, so 
alluring and insidious, so fairly masked under the proffer of 
learning leading to fuller Christian knowledge, was of course 
the all too beloved pagan literature, and the all too humanly 
convincing plausibilities of pagan philosophy. Hildebert's 
writings evince that kind of classical scholarship which 
springs only from great study and great love. His soul 
does not appear to have been riven by a consciousness of sin 
in this behoof. Sometimes he passes so gently from Chris- 
tian to pagan ethics, as to lead one to suspect that he did 
not deeply feel the inconsistency between them. Or again, 
he seems satisfied with the moral reasonings of paganism, 
and sets them forth without a qualm. For there was the 
antique pagan side of our good bishop ; and how pagan 
thoughts and views of life had become a part of Hildebert's 
nature, appears in a most interesting letter written to King 
Henry, consoling him upon the loss of his son and the noble 
company so gaily sailing from Normandy in that ill-starred 
White Ship in the year 1120. 

Hildebert begins reminding the King how much more it 
is for a monarch to rule himself than others. Hitherto he 
has triumphed over fortune, if fortune be anything ; now she 
has wounded him with her sharpest dart. Yet that cannot 
penetrate the well-guarded mind. It is wisdom not to vaunt 
oneself in prosperity, nor be overwhelmed with grief in 
adversity. Hildebert then reasons on the excellence of 
man's nature and will ; he speaks of the effect of Adam's sin 
in loss of grace and entailment of misery on the human race. 
He quotes from the Old Testament and from Virgil. Then 
he proceeds more specifically with his fortifying arguments. 
Their sum is, let the breast of man abound in weapons of 
defence and contemn the thrusts of fortune ; there is nothing 
over which the triumphant soul may not triumph. 

" Unhappy he who lacks this armament ; and most unhappy 
he who besides does not know it. Here Democritus found matter 
for laughter, Demosthenes (sic) matter for tears. Far be it from 
thee that the chance cast of things should affect thee so, and the 
loss of wisdom follow the loss of offspring. Thou hast suffered 


on dry land more grievous shipwreck than thy son in the brine, 
if fortune's storm has wrested wisdom from the wise." 

After a while Hildebert passes on to consider what is 
man, and wherein consists his welfare : 

" To any one carefuUy considering what man is, nothing will 
seem more probable than that he is a divine animal, distinguished 
by a certain share of divinity {numinis). By bone and flesh he 
smacks of the earth. By reason his affinity to God is shown. 
Moses, inspired, certifies that by this prerogative man was created 
in the image of God. Whence it also follows for man, that he 
should through reason recognize and love his true good. Now 
reason teaches that what pertains to virtue is the true good, and 
that it is within us. The things we temporally possess are good 
only by opinion {opinione, i.e. not ratione), and these are about us. 
What is about us is not within our jus but another's {alterius juris 
sunt). Chance directs them ; they neither come nor stand under 
our arbitrament. For us they are at the lender's will {precaria), 
like a slave belonging to another.^ Through such, true felicity is 
neither had nor lost. Indeed no one is happy, no one is wretched 
by reason of what is another's. It is his own that makes a man's 
good or ill, and whatever is not within him is not his own." 

Then Hildebert speaks of dignities, of wife and child, 
of the fruits of the earth and riches — bona vaga, bona sunt 
pennata haec omnia. Men quarrel and struggle about all 
these things — ecce vides quanta mundus laboret insania? 

No one need point out how much more natural this 
reasoning would have been from the lips of Seneca than 
from those of an archiepiscopal contemporary of St. Bernard. 
One may, however, comment on the patent fact that this 
reflection of the antique in Hildebert's ethical consolation 
reflects a manner of reasoning rather than an emotional 

^ A technical illustration from Roman law. 

^ Hildeberti, Ep. ii. 12 (Migne 171, col. 172-177). Compare Ep. i. 17, consoling 
a friend on loss of place and dignities. Hildebert's works are in vol. 171 of Migne's 
Pat. Lat. A number of his poems are more carefully edited by Haureau in Notices 
et extraits des MSS., etc., vol. 28, ii. p. 289 sqq. ; and some of them in vol. 29, 
ii. p. 231 sqq. of the same series. The matter is more conveniently given by 
Haureau in his Melanges poitiques d'Hildehert de Lavardin. On the man and his 
writings see De servillers, Hildebert et, son temps (Paris, 1876) ; Hebert Duperron, 
De Venerabilis Hildeberti vita et scriptis (Bajocis, 1855) ; also vol. xi. of Hist, 
lit. de la France ; and (best of all) Dieudonne, Hildebert de Lavardin, sa vie, ses 
lettres, etc. (Paris, 1898). 


mood, and in this it is an instance of the general fact that 
mediaeval methods of reasoning consciously or unconsciously 
followed the antique ; while the emotion, the love and yearn- 
ing, of mediaeval religion was more largely the gift of 



In this and the next chapter we are concerned with literature, 
properly speaking ; and with the effect of the Classics, the 
pure literary antique, upon mediaeval literary productions. 
The latter are to be viewed as literature ; not considering 
their substance, but their form, their composition, style, and 
temperamental shading, qualities which show the faculties 
and temper of their authors. We are to discover, if we can, 
wherein the qualities of mediaeval literature reflect the 
Latin Classics, or in any way betray their influence. 

It is an affair of dull diligence to learn what Classics 
were read by the various mediaeval writers ; and likewise is 
it a dull affair to note in mediaeval writings the direct 
borrowing from the Classics of fact, opinion, sentiment, or 
phrase. Such borrowing was incessant, resorted to as of 
course wherever opportunity offered and the knowledge was 
at hand. , It would not commonly occur to a mediaeval 
writer to state in his own way what he could take from an 
ancient author, save in so far as change of medium — from 
prose to verse, or from Latin to the vernacular — compelled 
him. So the church builders in Rome never thought of 
hewing new blocks of stone, or making new columns, when 
some ancient palace or temple afforded a quarry. The 
details of such spoliations offer little interest in comparison 
with the effect of antique architecture upon later styles. 
So we should like to discover the effect of the ancient 
compositions upon the mediaeval, and observe how far the 
faculties and mental processes of classic authors, incorporate 
in their writings, were transmitted to mediaeval men, to 
become incorporate in theirs. 



Unless you are Virgil or Cicero, you cannot write like 
Virgil or Cicero. Writing, real writing, that is to say, 
creative self-expressive composition, is the personal product 
and closely mirrored reflex of the writer's temperament and 
mentality. It gives forth indirectly the influences which 
have blended in him, education and environment, his past 
and present. His personality makes his style, his untrans- 
mittable style. Yet a group of men affected by the same 
past, and living at the same time and place, or under 
like spiritual influences, may show a like faculty and 
taste. Having more in common with one another than 
with men of other time, their mental processes, and 
therefore their ways of writing, will present more 
common qualities. Around and above them, as well 
as through their natal and acquired faculties, sweeps 
the genius of the language, itself the age-long product 
of a like-minded race. Each writer who will write 
that language must shape his more personal diction in 
harmony with its genius, and not in opposition and 

Obviously the personal elements in classic writings were 
no more capable of transmission than the personal qualities 
of the writers. Likewise, the genius of the Latin language, 
though one might think it fixed in approved compositions, 
changed with the spiritual fortune of the Roman people, 
and constantly transmitted an altered self and novel tenets 
of construction to control the linguistic usages of succeeding 
men. None but himself could have written Cicero's letters. 
No man of Juvenal's time could have written the Aeneid, 
nor any man of the time of Diocletian the histories of 
Tacitus. There were, however, common elements in these 
compositions, all of them possessing certain qualities which 
are associated with classical writing. These may be difficult 
to formulate, but they become clear enough in contrast with 
the qualities of mediaeval Latin literature. The mediaeval 
man did not feel and reason like a contemporary of Virgil 
or Cicero ; he had not the same training in Greek literature ; 
he did not have the same definitude of conception, did not 
care so much that a composition should have limit and the 
unity springing from adherence to a single topic ; he did 



not, in fine, stand on the same level of attainment and 
faculty and taste with men of the Augustan time. He had 
his own heights and depths, his own temperament and 
predilections, his own capacities. Reading the Classics 
had not transformed him into Cicero or Seneca, or set 
his feet in the Roman Forum. His feet wandered in 
the ways of the Middle Ages, and whatever he wrote 
in prose or verse, in Latin or in his own vernacular, 
was himself and of himself, and but indirectly due to 
the antecedent influences which had been transmuted even 
. in entering his nature and becoming part of his temper 
and faculty. 

Any consideration of the knowledge and appreciation of 
the Classics in the Middle Ages would be followed naturally 
by a consideration of their effect upon mediaeval com- 
position ; which in turn forms part of any discussion of the 
literary qualities of mediaeval Latin literature. But inas- 
much as mediaeval form and diction tend to remove further 
and further from classical standards, the whole discussion 
may seem a lucus a non lucendo for all the light it throws 
upon the effect of the Classics on mediaeval literature. Our 
best plan will be to note the beginnings of mediaeval Latinity 
in that post -Augustan and largely patristic diction which 
had been enriched and reinvigorated with many phrases 
from daily speech ; and then to follow the living if 
sluggish river as it moves on, receiving increment along 
its course, its currents mottled with the silt of mediaeval 
Italy, France, Germany. We shall suppose this flood to 
divide in rivers of Latin prose and verse ; and we may 
follow them, and see where they overflow their channels, 
carrying antique flotsam into the ample marshes of vernacular 

There has always been a difference in diction between 
speech and literature. At Rome, Cicero and Caesar, and of 
course the poets, did not, in writing, use quite the language 
of the people. All the words of daily speech were not 
taken into the literary or classical vocabulary, which had 
often quite other words of its own. Moreover the writers, 
in forming their prose and verse and constructing their 
compositions, were affected deeply by their study of Greek 


literature. 1 If Caesar, Cicero, Virgil, and their friends spoke 
differently from the Roman shopkeepers, there was a still 
greater difference between their writings and the parlance of 
the town. 

No one need be told that it was the spoken, and not 
the classical Latin, which in Italy, Spain, Provence, and 
Northern France developed into Italian, Spanish, Provengal, 
and French. On the other hand, the descent of written 
mediaeval Latin from the classical diction or the popular 
speech, or both, is not so clear, or at least not so simple. 
It cannot be said that mediaeval Latin came straight from 
the classical ; and manifestly it cannot have sprung from 
the popular spoken Latin, like the Romance tongues, 
without other influence or admixture ; because then, instead 
of remaining Latin, it would have become Romance ; which 
it did not. Evidently mediaeval Latin, the literary and to 
some extent the spoken medium of educated men in the 
Middle Ages, must have carried classic strains, or have kept 
itself Latin by the study of Latin grammar and a conscious 
adherence to a veritable, if not classical, Latin diction. 
The mediaeval reading of the Classics, and the earnest and 
constant study of Latin grammar spoken of in the previous 
chapter, were the chief means by which mediaeval Latin 
maintained its Latinity. Nevertheless, while it kept the 
word forms and inflections of classical Latin and most of 
the classical vocabulary, it also drew an indefinite supply 
of words from the spoken Latin of the late imperial or 
patristic period. 

In order to understand the genesis and qualities of 
mediaeval Latin, one must bear in mind (as with most things 
mediaeval) that its immediate antecedents lie in the transi- 
tional fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, and not in the 
classical period.^ Those centuries went far toward declassi- 

^ It is well known that the great Latin prose, in spite of variances of stylistic 
intent and faculty among the individual writers, was an artistic creation, formed 
under the influence of Greek models. Cicero is the supreme example of this, and 
he is also the greatest of all Latin prose writers. After his time some great writers 
{e.g. Tacitus, Quintilian) preserved a like tradition ; others {e.g. Seneca) paid 
less attention to it. And likewise on through the patristic period, and the Middle 
Ages too, some men endeavoured to preserve a classic style, while others wrote 
more naturally. 

* Even as it is necessary, in order to appreciate some of the methods of the 


cizing Latin prose, by departing from the balanced structure 
of the classic sentences and introducing words from the 
spoken tongue. The style became less correct, freer, and 
better suited to the expression of the novel thoughts and 
interests coming with Christianity, The change is seen in 
the works of the men to whom it was largely due, TertuUian, 
Jerome, and other great patristic writers.^ Such men knew 
the Classics well, and regarded them as literary models, and 
yet wrote differently. For a new spirit was upon them and 
new necessities of expression, and they lived when, even 
outside of Christian circles, the classic forms of style were 
loosening with the falling away of the strenuous intellectual 
temper, the poise, the self-reliance and the self-control 
distinguishing the classical epoch. 

The stylistic genius of Augustine and Jerome was not 
the genius of the formative beginnings of the Romance 
tongues, with, for instance, its inability to rely on the close 
logic of the case ending, and its need to help the meaning 
by the more explicit preposition. Yet the spirit of these 
two great men was turning that way. They were not 
classic writers, but students of the Classics, who assisted 
their own genius by the study of what no longer was 
themselves. So in the following centuries the most careful 
Latin writers are students of the Classics, and do not study 
Jerome and Augustine for style. Yet their writings carry 
out the tendencies beginning (or rather not beginning) with 
these two. 

It was not in diction alone that the Fathers were the 
forerunners of mediaeval writers. Classic Latin authors, both 
from themselves and through their study of Greek literature, 
had the sense and faculty of form. Their works maintain a 
clear sequence of thought, along with strict pertinency to 
the main topic, or adherence to the central current of the 
narrative, avoiding digression and refraining from excessive 
amplification. The classic writer did not lose himself in his 
subject, or wander with it wherever it might lead him. But 

Latin classical poetry, to realize that their immediate antecedents lay in Greek 
Alexandrian literature rather than in the older Greek Classics. 

^ See Taylor, Classical Heritage, chapter viii. ; and generally L. Traube, 
Einleitung in die lateinische Philologie des Mittelalters (Munich, 191 1). 


in patristic writings the subject is apt to dominate the man, 
draw him after its own necessities, or by its casual sugges- 
tions cause him to digress. The Fathers in their polemic or 
expository works became prolix and circumstantial, intent, 
like a lawyer with a brief, on proving every point and 
leaving no loophole to the adversary. In their works 
literary unity and strict sequence of argument may be cast 
to the winds. Above all, as it seems to us, and as it would 
have seemed to Caesar or Cicero or Tacitus, allegorical 
interpretation carries them at its own errant and fantastic 
will into footless mazes. 

Yet whoever will understand and appreciate the writings 
of the Fathers and of the mediaeval generations after them, 
should beware of inelastic notions. The question of unity 
hangs on what the writer deems the veritable topic of his 
work, and that may be the universal course of the providence 
of God, which was the subject of Augustine's Civitas Dei. 
Indeed, the infinite relationship of any Christian topic was 
likely to break through academic limits of literary unity. 
Similarly the proper sequence of thought depends on what 
constitutes the true connection between one matter and 
another ; it must follow what with the writer are the veritable 
relationships of his topics. If the visible facts of a man's 
environment'and the narratives of history are to him primarily 
neither actual facts nor literal narratives, but symbols and 
allegories of spiritual things, then the true sequence of thought 
for him is from symbol to symbol and from allegory to 
allegory. He is justified in ignoring the apparent connection 
of visible facts and the logic of the literal story, and in sur- 
rendering himself to that sequence of thought which follows 
what is for him the veritable significance of the matter. 

Yet here we must apply another standard besides that 
of the writer's conception of his subject's significance. He 
should be wise, and not foolish. Other men and later ages 
will judge him according to their own best wisdom. And 
with respect to the writings of the Fathers viewed as 
literature, the modern critic cannot fail to see them entering 
upon that course of prolixity which in mediaeval writings will 
develop into the endless ; looking forward, he will see their 
errant habits resolving into the mediaeval lack of determined 


topic, and their symbolically driven sequences of thought 
turning into the most ridiculous topical transitions, as the 
less cogent faculties of later men permit themselves to be 
suggested anywhither. 

The Fathers developed their distinguishing qualities of 
style and language under the demands of the topics absorbing 
them, and the influence of modes of feeling coming with 
Christianity. They were compelling an established language 
to express novel matter. In the centuries after them, 
further changes were to come through the linguistic 
tendencies moulding the evolution of the Romance tongues, 
through the counter influence of the study of grammar and 
rhetoric, and also through the ignorance and intellectual 
limitations of the writers. But as with the Latin of the 
Fathers, so with the Latin of the Middle Ages, the change 
of style and language was intimately and spiritually 
dependent upon the minds and temperaments of the writers 
and the qualities of the subjects for which they were seeking 
an expression, A profound influence in the evolution of 
mediaeval Latin was the continual endeavour of the mediaeval 
genius to express the thoughts and feelings through which it 
was becoming itself. With impressive adequacy and power 
the Christian writers of the Middle Ages moulded their 
inherited and acquired Latin tongue to utter the varied 
matters which moved their minds and lifted up their hearts. 
We marvel to see a language which once had told the 
stately tale of Rome, here lowered to fantastic incident and 
dull stupidity, then with almost gospel simplicity telling the 
moving story of some saintly life ; again sonorously uttering 
thoughts to lift men from the earth and denunciations 
crushing them to hell ; quivering with hope and fear and 
love, and chanting the last verities of the human soul. 

As to the evolution of various styles of written Latin 
from the close of the patristic period on through the 
following centuries, one may premise the remark that there 
would commonly be two opposite influences upon the writer ; 
that of the genius of his native tongue, and that of his 
education in Latinity. If he lived in a land where Teutonic 
speech had never given way to the spoken Latin of the 
Empire, his native tongue would be so different from the 


Latin which he learned at school, that while it might impede, 
it could hardly draw to its own genius the learned language. 
But in Romance countries there was no such absolute 
difference between the vernacular and the Latin, and the 
analytic genius of the growing Romance dialects did not fail 
to affect the latter. Accordingly in France, for example, the 
spoken Latin dialect, or one may say the genius that was 
forming the old French dialects to what they were to be, 
tends to break up the ancient periods, to introduce the 
auxiliary verb in the place of elaborate inflections, and rely 
on prepositions instead of case endings, which were dis- 
appearing and whose force was ceasing to be felt. One 
result was to simplify the order of words in a sentence ; 
for it was not possible to move a noun with its accompanying 
preposition wherever it had been feasible to place a noun 
whose relation to the rest of the sentence was felt from 
its case ending. Gregory of Tours is the famous example 
of these tendencies, with his Historia francorum, an ideal 
forerunner of Froissart. He became Bishop of Tours in 
the year 573. In his writings he followed the instincts 
of the inchoate Romance tongues. He acknowledges and 
perhaps overstates his ignorance of Latin grammar and 
the rules of composition. Such ignorance was destined 
to become still blanker ; and ignorance in itself was a 
disintegrating influence upon written Latin, and also 
gave freer play to the gathering tendencies of Romance 

Evidently, had all these influences worked unchecked, 
they would have obliterated Latinity from mediaeval Latin. 
Grammatical and rhetorical education countered them 
effectively, and the mighty genius of the ancient language 
endured in the extant masterpieces. Nevertheless, the spirit 
of classical Latinity was never again to be a spontaneous 
creative power. The most that men thenceforth could do 
was to study and endeavour to imitate the forms in which 
it had embodied its living self. 

In brief, some of the chief influences upon the writing 
of Latin in the Middle Ages were : the classical genius 
dead, leaving only its works for imitation ; the school 
education in Latin grammar and rhetoric ; endeavour to 


follow classic models and write correctly ; inability to 
do so from lack of capacity and knowledge ; conscious 
disregard of classicism ; the spirit of the Teutonic tongues 
clogging Latinity, and that of the Romance tongues deflect- 
ing it from classical constructions ; and finally, the plastic 
faculties of advancing Christian mediaeval civilization 
educing power from confusion, and creating modes of 
language suited to express the thoughts and feelings of 
mediaeval men. 

The life, that is to say the living development, of 
mediaeval Latin prose, was to lie in the capacity of suc- 
cessive generations of educated men to maintain a sufficient 
grammatical correctness, while at the same time writing 
Latin, not classically, but in accordance with the necessities 
and spirit of their times. There resulted an enormous 
literature which was not dead, nor altogether living, and 
throughout was lacking in the spontaneity of writings in a 
mother tongue ; for Latin was not the speech of hearth and 
home, nor everywhere the tongue of the market-place and 
camp. But it was the language of mediaeval education and 
acquired culture ; it was also the language of the universal 
church, and, above all other tongues, expressed the thoughts 
by which men were saved or damned. More profoundly than 
any vernacular mediaeval literature, the Latin literature of 
the Middle Ages expressed the mediaeval mind. It thundered 
with the authority that held the keys of heaven ; it was 
resonant with feeling, and through long centuries gave voice 
to emotions, shattering, terror-stricken, convulsively loving. 
When, say with the close of the eleventh century, the 
mediaeval peoples had absorbed with power the teachings of 
patristic Christianity, and had undergone some centuries of 
Latin schooling, and when under these two chief influences 
certain distinctive and homogeneous ways of thinking, 
feeling, and looking upon life, had been reached ; when, 
in fine, the Middle Ages had become themselves and had 
evolved a genius that could create, — then and from that time 
appears the adaptability and power of mediaeval Latin to 
serve the ends of intellectual effort and the expression of 

To estimate the literary qualities of classical Latin is a 


simpler task than to judge the Latinity and style of the 
Latin literature of the Middle Ages. Classic Latin prose 
has a common likeness. In general one feels that what 
Cicero and Caesar would have rejected, Tacitus and 
Ouintilian would not have admitted. The syntax of these 
vsniters shows still greater uniformity. No such common 
likeness, or avoidance of stylistic aberration and gram- 
matical solecism, obtains in mediaeval prose or verse. The 
one and the other include many kinds of Latin, and vary from 
century to century, diversified in idiom and deflected from 
linguistic uniformity by influences of race and native speech, 
of ignorance and knowledge. He who would appreciate 
mediaeval Latin will be diffident of academic standards, and 
mistrust his classical predilections lest he see aberration 
and barbarism where he might discover the evolution of 
new constructions and novel styles ; lest he bestow 
encomium upon clever imitations of classical models, and 
withhold it from more living creations of the mediaeval 

The following pages do not offer themselves even as a 
slight sketch of mediaeval Latin literature. Their purpose 
is to indicate the stages of development of the prose and the 
phases of evolution of the verse ; and to illustrate the way in 
which antique themes and antique knowledge passed into 
vernacular poetry. Classical standards will supply us less 
with a point of view than with a point of departure. 
Nothing more need be said of the Latin of the Church 
Fathers and Gregory of Tours. But one must refer to the 
Carolingian period, in order to appreciate the Latin styles of 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 

' A palpable difficulty in judging mediaeval Latin literature is its biilk. The 
extant Latin classics could be tucked away in a small corner of it. Every well- 
equipped student of the Classics has probably read them all. One mortal life 
would hardly suffice to read a moderate part of mediaeval Latin. And, finally, 
while there are histories of the classic literature in every modem tongue, there 
can scarcely be said to exist a general work upon mediaeval writings regarded as 
literature. Ebert's Allgemeine Geschichte der Litter atur des Mittelalters ends 
with the tenth century. The author died. There has also appeared the first 
part (to the middle of the tenth century) of M. Manitius' Geschichte der lateinischen 
Literatur des Mittelalters (Munich, 1911). It will be a work of value. Within 
the scope of its piurpose. Sir J. E. Sandys' History of Classical Scholarship is very 
good. Grober's Vbersicht iiber die lateinische Litteratur von des 6. Jahrhunderts bis 
^SSo may be referred to. 


The revival of education and classical scholarship under 
the strong rule and fostering care of the greatest of mediaeval 
monarchs has not always been rightly judged. The vision 
of that prodigious personality ruling, christianizing, striving 
to civilize masses of barbarians and barbarized descendants 
of Romans and provincials ; at the same time with eager 
interest endeavouring to revive the culture of the past, and 
press it into the service of the Christian faith ; the striking 
success of his endeavours, men of learning coming from 
Ireland, England, Spain, and Italy, creating a peripatetic 
centre of knowledge at the imperial court, and establish- 
ing schools in many a monastery and episcopal residence 
— all this has never failed to arouse enthusiasm for the 
great achievement, and has veiled the creative deadness of 
it all, a deadness which in some provinces of intellectual 
endeavour was quite veritably moribund, while in others it 
betokened the necessary preparation for creative epochs to 



Carolingian scholarship was directed to the mastery of 
Latin. Grammar was taught, and the rules of composition. 
Then the scholars were bidden, or bade themselves, do 
likewise. So they wrote verse or prose according to their 
school lessons. They might write correctly ; but they had 
no style of their own. This was hopelessly true as to their 
metrical verses ; ^ it was only somewhat less tangibly true 
of their prose. The " classic " of the period, in the eyes 
of modem classical scholars and also in the opinion of 
the mediaeval centuries, is Einhard's Life of Charlemagne. 
Numberless encomiums have been passed on it, and justly 
too. It was an excellent imitation of Suetonius's Life of 
Aftgustus ; and the writer had made a careful study of 
Caesar and Livy.^ There is no need to quote from a writing 
so accessible and well known. Yet one remark may be 
added to what others have said : if Einhard's composition 
was an excellent copy of classical Latin, it was nothing else; 
it has no stylistic individuality.* 

1 Ante, Chapter X. • ^ p^^t^ Chapter XXXIII., i. 

^ See Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, i. 463-464. 

* There was no attempt at classicism in the narrative in which he recounted 
the Translation of the relics of the martyrs Marcellinus and Peter from Rome to 
his own new monastery at Seligenstadt (Migne 104, col. 537-594). It was an 


Turning from this famous biography, we wiU illustrate 
our point by quoting from the letters of him who stands as 
the type of the Carolingian revival, the Anglo-Saxon Alcuin. 
All praise to this noble educational coadjutor of Charlemagne; 
his learning was conscientious, his work was important, his 
character was lovable. His affectionate nature speaks in a 
letter to his former brethren at York, where his home had 
been before he entered Charlemagne's service. Here is a 
sentence : 

" O omnium dilectissimi patres et fratres, memores mei estote ; 
ego vaster ero, sive in vita, sive in morte. Et forte miserebitur mei 
Deus, ut cujus infantiam aluistis, ejus senectutem sepeliatis." ^ 

It were invidious to find fault with this Latin, in which 
the homesick man expresses his hope of sepulture in his old 
home. Note also the balance of the following, written to a 
sick friend : 

" Gratias agamus Deo Jesu, vulneranti et medenti, flageUanti 
et consolanti. Dolor corporis salus est animae, et infirmitas 
temporalis, sanitas perpetua. Libenter accipiamus, patienter 
feramus voluntatem Salvatoris nostri." ^ 

This too is excellent, in language as in sentiment. So 
is another, and last, sentence from our author, in a letter 
congratulating Charlemagne on his final subjugation of the 
Huns, through which the survivors were brought to a 
knowledge of the truth : 

" Qualis erit tibi gloria, O beatissime rex, in die aetemae 
retributionis, quando hi omnes qui per tuam sollicitudinem ab 
adolatriae cultura ad cognoscendum venim Deum conversi sunt, 
te ante tribunal Domini nostri Jesu Christi in beata sorte stantem 
sequentur ! " ^ 

Again, the only trouble is stylelessness. In fine, this is the 
quality characterizing Carolingian prose, of which a last ex- 
ample may be taken from the Spaniard Theodulphus, Bishop 

entertaining story of a pious theft, and one may be sure that he wrote it more 
easily, and in a style more natural to himself than that shown in his consciously 
imitative masterpiece. 

1 Ep. vi. (Migne loo, col. 146). * Ep. xxxii. (Migne 100, col. 187). 

' Ep. xxxiii. (Migne 100, col. 187). 


of Orleans, " an accomplished Latin poet/' and an educator 
yielding in importance to Alcuin alone. The sentence is 
from an official admonition to the clergy, warning them to 
attach more value to salvation than to lucre : 

" Admonendi sunt qui negotiis ac mercationibus rerum 
invigilant, ut non plus terrenam quam viam cupiant sempitemam. 
Nam qui plus de rebus terrenis quam de animae suae salute 
cogitat, valde a via veritatis aberrat." ^ 

Evidently there was a good knowledge of Latin among 
these Carolingians, who laboured for the revival of education 
and the preservation of the Classics. The nadir of classical 
learning falls in the succeeding period of break-up, confusion, 
and dawning re-adjustment. In the century or two following 
the year 850, the writers were too unskilled in Latin and 
often too cumbered by it, to manifest in their writings that 
unhampered and distinctive reflex of a personality which we 
term style. A rare exception would appear in such a potent 
scholar as Gerbert, who mastered whatever he learned, and 
made it part of his own faculties and temperament. His 
letters, consequently, have an individual style, however good 
or bad we may be disposed to deem it.^ 

Accordingly, until after the millennial year, Latin prose 
shows little beyond a clumsy heaviness resulting from the 
writer's insufficient mastery of his medium ; and there are 
many instances of barbarism and corruption of the tongue 
without any compensating positive qualities. A dreadful 
example is afforded by the Chronicon of Benedictus, a monk 
of St. Andrews in Monte Soracte, who lived in the latter 
part of the tenth century. He relates, as history, the fable 
of Charlemagne's journey to the Holy Land ; and his own 
eyes may have witnessed the atrocious times of John XII., 
of whom he speaks as follows : 

" Inter haec non multum tempus Agapitus papa decessit (an. 
956) . Octabianus in sede sanctissima susceptus est, et vocatus est 
Johannes duodecimi pape. Factus est tam lubricus sui corporis, 
et tam audaces, quantum nunc in gentilis populo solebat fieri. 
Habebat consuetudinem sepius venandi non quasi apostolicus 

1 Capitula ad Presbyteros (Migne 105, col. 202). 
^ See ante, Chapter XII. 


sed quasi homo ferns. Erat enim cogitio ejus vanum ; diligebat 
collectio feminarum, odibiles aecclesiarum, amabilis juvenis 
ferocitantes. Tanta denique libidine sui corporis exarsit, quanta 
nunc (non ?) possumus enarrare." ^ 

No need to draw further from this writing, which is 
characterized throughout by crass ignorance of grammar and 
all else pertaining to Latin. It has no individual qualities ; 
it has no style. Leaving this example of illiteracy, let us 
turn to a man of more knowledge, Odo, one of the greatest 
of the abbots of Cluny, who died in the year 943. He left 
lengthy writings, one of them a bulky epitome of the famous 
M or alia of Gregory the Great. ^ More original were his 
three dull books of Collationes, or moral comments upon 
the Scriptures. They open with a heavy note which their 
author might have drawn from the dark temperament of that 
great pope whom he so deeply admired ; but the language 
has a leaden quality which is not Gregory's, but Odo's. 

" Auctor igitur et judex hominum Deus, licet ab ilia felicitate 
paradisi genus nostrum juste repulerit, suae tamen bonitatis 
memor, ne totus reus homo quod meretur incurrat, hujus pere- 
grinationis molestias multis beneficiis demulcet." 

And, again, a little further on : 

" Omnis vero ejusdem Scripturae intentio est, ut nos ab hujus 
vitae pravitatibus compescat. Nam idcirco terribilibus suis 
sententiis cor nostrum, quasi quibusdam stimulis pungit, ut homo 
terrore pulsatus expavescat, et divina judicia quae aut voluptate 
carnis aut terrena sollicitudine discissus oblivisci facile solet, ad 
memoriam reducat." ^ 

^ Chronicon, cap. 35 (Migne 139, col. 46). The sense is easy to follow, but 
the impossible constructions render an exact translation quite impossible. It is 
doubtful whether this Benedictus was an Italian. The Italian writing of this 
period, like that of Liutprand, is easier than among more painful students north 
of the Alps. But otherwise its qualities are rarely more pronounced. Ease is 
shown, however, in the Chronicon Venetum of John the Deacon (d. cir. 1008). 
See ante, Chapter XIII., iii. 

* Migne 133. This work fills four himdred columns in Migne. On Odo see 
ante, Chapter XII., 11. 

' Odo of Cluny, Collationes, lib. i. cap. i. (Migne 133, col. 519 and 520). 
"Therefore God, Creator and Judge of mankind, although He have justly driven 
our race from that felicity of Paradise, yet mindful of His goodness, lest man all 
guilt should incur what he deserves, softens the sorrows of this pilgrimage with 
many benefits. . . . Indeed the whole purpose of that same Scripture is to keep 
us from the depravities of this life. For to that end with its dreadful utterances, 
as with so many goads, it pricks o\ur heart, that man struck by fear may shudder, 


One feels the dull heaviness of this. Odo, like many of 
his contemporaries, knew enough of Latin grammar, and had 
read some of the Classics. But he had not mastered what 
he knew, and his knowledge was not converted into power. 
The tenth century was still painfully learning the lessons 
of its Christian and classical heritage. A similar lack of 
personal facility may be observed in Ruotger's biography of 
Bruno, the worthy brother of the great emperor Otto I., and 
Archbishop of Cologne. Bruno died in 965, and Ruotger, 
who had been his companion, wrote his Life without delay. 
It has not the didactic ponderousness of Odo's writing, but 
its language is clumsy. The following passage is of interest 
as showing Bruno's education and the kind of learned man 
it made him. 

" Deinde ubi prima grammaticae artis rudimenta percepit, 
sicut ab ipso in Dei omnipotentis gloriam hoc saepius niminante 
didicimus, Prudentium poetam tradente magistro legere coepit. 
Qui sicut est et fide intentioneque catholicus, et eloquentia 
veritateque praecipuus, et metrorum librorumque varietate 
elegantissimus, tanta mox dulcedine palate cordis ejus com- 
placuit, ut jam non tantum exteriorum verborum scientiam, 
varum intimi meduUam sensus, et nectar ut ita dicam liquid- 
issimum, majori quam dici possit aviditate hauriret. Postea 
nullum penitus erat studiorum Hberalium genus in omni Graeca 
vel Latina eloquentia, quod ingenii sui vivacitatem aufugeret. 
Nee vero, ut solet, aut divitiarum afiiuentia, aut turbanim 
circumstrepentium assiduitas, aut ullum aliunde subrepens 
fastidium ab hoc nobili otio animum ejus unquam avertit. . . . 
Saepe inter Graecorum et Latinorum doctissimos de philosophiae 
subUmitate aut de cujuslibet in ilia fiorentis discipHnae subtiHtate 
disputantes doctus interpres medius ipse consedit, et disputan- 
tibus ad plausum omnium, quo nihil minus amaverat, satisfecit." ^ 

The gradual improvement in the writing of Latin in the 

and may recall to memory the divine judgments which he is wont so easily to 
forget, distracted by lust of the flesh and the solicitudes of earth." 

1 Ruotgerus, Vita Brunonis, cap. 4 and 6 ; Pertz, Mon. Germ. Script, iv. p. 254, 
and Migne 134, col. 944 and 946. A translation of this passage is given ante 
Vol. I., p. 311. See ibid., p. 315, for the scholarship and writings of Hermannus 
Contractus, an eleventh-century German. Ruotger's clumsy Latin is outdone by 
the linguistic involutions of the Life of Wenceslaus, the martyr duke of Bohemia, 
written toward the close of the tenth century by Gumpoldus, Bishop of Mantua, 
who seems to have cultivated classical rhetoric most disastrously (Pertz, Mon. 
Germ. Script, iv. p. 211, and in Migne 135, col. 923 sqq.). 


Middle Ages, and the evolution of distinctive mediaeval 
styles, did not result from a larger acquaintance with the 
Classics, or a better knowledge of grammar and school 
rhetoric. The range of classical reading might extend, or 
from time to time contract, and Donatus and Priscian were 
used in the ninth century as well as in the twelfth. It is 
true that the study of grammar became more intelligent in 
the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and its teachers deferred 
less absolutely to the old rules and illustrations. They 
recognized Christian standards of diction : first of all the 
Vulgate ; next, early Christian poets like Prudentius ; and 
then gradually the mediaeval versifiers who wrote and won 
approval in the twelfth century. Thus grammar sought to 
follow current usage. ^ This endeavour culminated at the 
close of the twelfth century in the Dodrinale of Alexander 
of Villa Dei.^ Before this, much of the best mediaeval 
Latin prose and verse had been written, and the period most 
devoted to the Classics had come and was already waning. 
That period was this same twelfth century. During its 
earlier half, Latinity gained doubtless from such improvement 
in the courses of the Trivium as took place at Chartres, for 
example, an improvement connected with the intellectual 
growth of the time. But the increase in the knowledge of 
Latin was mainly such as a mature man may realize within 
^himself, if he has kept up his Latin reading, however little he 
may seem to have added to his knowledge since leaving his 
Alma Mater. 

So the development of mediaeval Latin prose (and also 
verse) advanced with the maturing of mediaeval civilization. 
That which was at the same time a living factor in this 
growth and a result of it, was the more organic appropriation 
of the classical and Christian heritages of culture and religion. 
As intellectuali^^faculties strengthened, and men drew power 
from the past, they gained facility in moulding their Latin 

^ From Thurot, Notices et extraits, etc., 22 (2), p. 87, and p. 341 sqq., one 
may see that the principles of construction stated by mediaeval grammarians 
followed the usage of mediaeval writers in adopting a simpler or more natural 
order than that of classical prose. An extract, for example, from an eleventh- 
century MSS. indicates the simple order which this grammarian author approved 
e.g. " Johannes hodie venit de civitate ; Petrus, quem Arnulfus genuit et nutrivit, 
intellexit multa " (Thurot, p. 87). 

2 Ante, Chapter XXXI., 11. 


to their purposes. Writings begin to reflect the personalities 
of the writers ; the diction ceases to be that of clumsy or 
clever school compositions, and presents an evolution of 
tangible mediaeval styles. Henceforth, although a man be 
an eager student of the Classics, like John of Salisbury 
for example, and try to imitate their excellences, he 
will still write mediaeval Latin, and with a personal 
style if he be a strong personality. The classical models 
no longer trammel, but assist him to be more effectively 

If mediaeval civilization is to be regarded as that which 
the peoples of western Europe attained under the two 
universal influences of Christianity and antique culture, 
then nothing more mediaeval will be seen than mediaeval 
Latin. To make it, the antique Latin had been modified 
and reinspired and loosed by the Christian energies of the 
Fathers ; and had then passed on to peoples who never 
had been, or no longer were, antique. They barbarized the 
language down to the rudeness of their faculties. As they 
themselves advanced, they brought up Latin with them, as 
it were, from the depths of the ninth and tenth centuries, 
but a Latin which in the crude natures of these men had 
been stripped of classical quality ; a Latin barbarous and 
naked, and ready to be clothed upon with novel qualities 
which should make it a new creature. Throughout all this 
process, while Latin was sinking and re-emerging, it was 
worked upon and inspired by the spirit of the uses to which 
it was predominantly applied, which were those of the 
Roman Catholic Church and of the intimacies of the 
Christian soul, pressing to expression in the learned tongue 
which they were transforming. 

In considering the Latin writings of the Middle Ages 
one should bear in mind the differences between Italy and 
the North with respect to the ancient language. These 
were important through the earlier Middle Ages, when 
modes of diction sufficiently characteristic to be called 
styles, were forming. The men of Latin-sodden Italy 
might have a fluent Latin when those of the North still 
had theirs to learn. Thus there were Italians in the 
eleventh century who wrote quite a distinctive Latin 


prose. 1 Among them were St. Peter Damiani, and St. Anselm 
of Aosta, Bee, and Canterbury. 

The former died full of virtue in the year 1072. We 
have elsewhere observed his character and followed his 
career.^ He was, to his great anxiety, a classical scholar, 
who had earned large sums as a teacher of rhetoric before 
natural inclination and fears for his soul drove him to an 
ascetic life. He was a master of the Latin which he used. 
His style is intense, eloquent, personal to himself as well 
as suited to his matter, and reflects his ardent character 
and keen perceptions. The following is a rhetorical yet 
beautiful description of a " last leaf," taken from one of 
his compositions in praise of the hermit way of salvation. 

" Videamus in arbore folium sub ipsis pruinis hiemalibus 
lapsabundum, et consumpto autumnalis clementiae virore, jam- 
jam pene casunim, ita ut vix ramusculo, cui dependet, inhaereat, 
sed apertissima levis ruinae signa praetendat : inhorrescunt 
flabra, venti furentes hie inde concutiunt, bnimalis horror crassi 
aeris rigore densatur : atque, ut magis stupeas, defluentibus 
reliquis undique foliis terra stemitur, et depositis comis arbor sue 
decore nudatur ; cum illud solum nullo manente permaneat, 
et velut cohaeredum superstes in fraternae possessionis jura 
succedat. Quid autem intelligendum in hujus rei consideratione 
relinquitur, nisi quia nee arboris folium potest cadere, nisi 
divinum praesumat imperium ? " ^ 

^ So likewise in regard to verse, the perfected two-syllable rhyme came first 
in Italy, and more slowly in the North, although the North was to produce better 
Latin poetry. ^ Ante, Chapters XL, iv., and XVIL 

^ Opusc. xiv., De ordine erimitarum (Migne 145, col. 329). 

" We may see upon a tree a leaf ready to succumb before the wintry frosts, 
and, with the sap of autumnal clemency consumed, even now about to fall, so 
that it barely cleaves to the twig it hangs from, but displays most evident signs 
of [its] light ruin. The blasts are quivering, wild winds strike it to and fro, 
the mid-winter horror of heavy air congeals with cold ; and that you may 
mcurvel the more, the ground is strewn with the rest of the leaves everywhere 
flowing down, and, with its locks laid low, the tree is stripped of its grace ; yet 
that alone, none other remaining, endures, and, as the survivor of co-heirs, 
succeeds to the rights of the brotherhood's possession. What then is left to be 
imderstood from consideration of this thing, save that not even a leaf of a tree can 
fall unless it receive beforehand the divine command ? " 

This description is rhetorically elaborated ; but Damiani commonly wrote 
more directly, as in this sentence from a letter to a nobleman, in which Damiani 
urges him not to fail in his duty to his mother through affection for his wife : 
" Sed forte dices : mater mea me frequenter exasperat, duris verbis meum et uxoris 
meae corda perturbat ; non possumus tot injuriarum probra perferre, non valemus 
austeritatis ejus et severae correptionis molestias tolerare " {Ep. vii. 3 ; Migne 
144, col. 466). Translated ante, note 2, Vol. I. p. 269. 



Anselm's diction, in spite of its frequent cloister 
rhetoric, has a simple and modem word-order. An account 
has already been given of his life and of his thoughts, so 
beautifully sky-blue, unpurpled with the crimson of human 
passion, which made the works of Augustine more veritably 
incandescent. 1 The great African was the strongest 
individual influence upon Anselm's thought and language. 
But the latter's style has departed further from the classical 
sentence, and of itself indicates that the writer belongs 
neither to the patristic period nor to the Carolingian time, 
busied with its rearrangement of patristic thought. The 
following is from his Proslogion upon the existence of God. 
Through this discourse. Deity and the Soul are addressed 
in the second person after the manner of Augustine's 

" Excita nunc, anima mea, et erige totum intellectum tuum, 
et cogita quantum potes quale et quantum sit illud bonum [i.e. 
Deus]. Si enim singula bona delectabilia sunt, cogita intente quam 
delectabile sit illud bonum quod continet jucunditatem omnium 
bonorum ; et non qualem in rebus creatis sumus experti, sed 
tanto differentem quanto differt Creator a creatura. Si enim 
bona est vita creata, quam bona est vita creatrix ! Si jucunda 
est salus facta, quam jucunda est salus quae fecit omnem salutem ! 
Si amabiUs est sapientia in cognitione rerum conditarum, quam 
amabilis est sapientia quae omnia condidit ex nihilo ! Denique, 
si multae et magnae delectationes sunt in rebus delectabilibus, 
qualis et quanta delectatio est in illo qui fecit ipsa delectabilia ! " ^ 

In a more emotional passage Anselm arouses in his soul 
the terror of the Judgment. It is from a " Meditatio " : 

1 Ante, Chapter XI., iv. 

^ Proslogion, cap. 24 (Migne 158, col. 239). 

" Awaken now, my soul, and rouse all thy understanding, and consider, as 
thou art able, of what nature and how great is that Good [God]. For if single 
goods are objects of delight, consider intently how deUghtful is that good which 
contains the joy of all goods ; and not such as in things created we have tried, but 
differing as greatly as differs the Creator from the creature. For if life created 
is good, how good is the life creatrix ! If joyful is the salvation wrought, how 
joyful is the salvation which wrought all salvation ! If lovely is wisdom in the 
knowledge of things created, how lovely is the wisdom which created all from 
nothing. In fine, if there are many and great delectations in things delightful, 
of what quality and greatness is delectation [i.e. the delectation that we take] 
in Him who made the delights themselves ! " 

The reader may observe that the word-order of Anselm's Latin is preserved 
almost unchanged in the translation. 


" Taedet animam meam vitae meae ; vivere erubesco, mori 
pertimesco. Quid ergo restat tibi, o peccator, nisi ut in tota vita 
tua plores totam vitam tuam, ut ipsa tota se ploret totam ? Sed 
est in hoc quoque anima mea miserabiliter mirabilis et mirabiliter 
miserabilis, quia non tantum dolet quantum se noscit ; sed sic 
secura torpet, velut quid patiatur ignoret. O anima sterilis, 
quid agis ? quid torpes, anima peccatrix ? Dies judicii venit, 
juxta est dies Domini magnus, juxta et velox nimis, dies irae dies 
ilia, dies tribulationis et angustiae, dies calamitatis et miseriae, 
dies tenebrarum et caliginis, dies nebulae et turbinis, dies tubae et 
clangoris. O vox diei Domini amara ! Quid dormitas, anima 
tepida et digna evomi ? " ^ 

Damiani wrote in the middle of the eleventh century, 
Anselm in the latter part. The northern lands could as yet 
show no such characteristic styles,^ although the classically 
educated German, Lambert of Hersfeld, wrote as correctly 
and perspicuously as either. His Annals have won admira- 
tion for their clear and correct Latinity, modelled upon 
the styles of Sallust and Livy. He died in 1077, the year 
of Canossa, his Annals covering the conflict between Henry 
IV. and Hildebrand up to that event. The narrative moves 
with spirit, as one may see by reading his description 
of King Henry and his consort struggling through Alpine 
ice and snow to reach that castle never to be forgotten, and 
gain absolution from the Pope before the ban should have 
completed Henry's ruin.^ 

1 " Meditatio II." (Migne 158, col. 722). 

" My soul is offended with my life. I blush to live ; I fear to die. What 
then remains for thee, O sinner, save that all thy life thou weepest over all thy 
life, that it all may lament its whole self. But in this also is my soul miserably 
wonderful and wonderfully miserable, that it does not grieve as much as it knows 
itself [i.e. to the full extent of its self-knowledge] but secure, is Ustless as if it 
knew not what it is suffering. O barren soul, what art thou doing ? why art 
thou drowsing, sinner soul ? The Day of Judgment is coming, near is the great 
day of the Lord, near and too swift the day of wrath, (that day !) day of tribulation 
and distress, day of calamity and misery, day of shades and darkness, day of 
cloud and whirlwind, day of the trump and the roar ! O voice of the day of 
the Lord — harsh ! Why sleepest thou, soul lukewarm and fit to be spewed 
out ? " 

^ Perhaps it may seem questionable to treat Anselm as an Italian, 
since he left Lombardy when a young man. Undoubtedly his theological 
interests were affected by his northern environment. But his temperament 
and language, his diction, his style, seem to me more closely connected with 
native temperament. 

" Annals for the year 1077 (Migne 146, col. 1234 sqq.) ; also in Mon. Germ. 
Script, iii. 


For the North, the best period of mediaeval Latin, 
prose as well as verse, opens with the twelfth century. It 
was indeed the great literary period of the Middle Ages. 
For the vernacular literatures flourished as well as the 
Latin. Provencal literature began as the eleventh century 
closed, and was stifled in the thirteenth by the Albigensian 
Crusade. So the twelfth was its great period. Likewise 
with the Old French literature : except the Roland which 
is earlier, the chief chansons de geste belong to the twelfth 
century ; also the romances of antiquity, to be spoken of 
hereafter ; also the romances of the Round Table, and a 
great mass of chansons and fabliaux. The Old German 
— or rather, Mittel Hochdeutsch — literature touches its 
height as the century closes and the next begins, in 
the works of Heinrich von Veldeke, Gottfried von Strass- 
burg. Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Walther von der 

The best Latin writers of the century lived, or sojourned, 
or were educated, for the most part in the France north of 
the Loire. Not that all of them were natives of that 
territory ; for some were German bom, some saw the light 
in England, and the birthplace of many is unknown. Yet 
they seem to belong to France. Nearly all were ecclesiastics, 
secular or regular. Many of them were notables in theology, 
like Hugo of St. Victor, Abaelard, Alanus de Insulis (Lille); 
many were poets as well, like Alanus and Hildebert and John 
of Salisbury too ; one was a thunderer on the earth, and a 
most deft politician, Bernard of Clairvaux, Some again are 
known only as poets, sacred or profane, like Adam of St. 
Victor, and Walter of ChatHlon — but of these hereafter. 
The best Latin prose writing of this, or any other, mediaeval 
period, had its definite purpose, metaphysical, theological, or 
pietistic ; and the writers have been or will be spoken of 
in connection with their specific fields of intellectual achieve- 
ment or religious fervour. Here, without discussing the men 
or their works, some favourable examples of their writing 
will be given. 

In the last passage quoted from Anselm, the reader 
must have felt the working of cloister rhetoric, and have 
noticed the antitheses and rhymes, to which mediaeval Latin 


lent itself so readily.^ Yet it is a slight affair compared with 
the confounding sonorousness, the flaring pictures, and 
terrifying climaxes of St, Bernard when preaching upon the 
same topic — the Judgment Day. In one of his famous 
sermons on Canticles, the saint has been suggesting to his 
audience, the monks of Clara Vallis, that although the Father 
might ignore faults, not so the Dominus and Creator : " et qui 
parcit filio, non parcet figmento, non parcet servo nequam." 
Listen to the carr5dng out and pointing of this thought : 

" Pensa cujus sit formidinis et horroris tuum at que omnium 
contempsisse factorem, offendisse Dominum majestatis. Majes- 
tatis est timeri, Domini est timeri, et maxima hujus majestatis, 
hujusque Domini. Nam si reum regiae majestatis, quamvis 
humanae, humanis legibus plecti capite sancitum sit, quis finis 
contemnentium divinam omnipotentiam erit ? Tangit montes, et 
fumigant ; et tarn tremendam majestatem audet irritare vilis 
pulvisculus, uno levi flatu mox dispergendus, et minime recolli- 
gendus ? Ille, ille timendus est, qui postquam acciderit corpus, 
potestatem habet mittere et in gehennam. Paveo gehennam, 
paveo judicis vultum, ipsis quoque tremendum angelicis 
potestatibus. Contremisco ab ira potentis, a facie furoris ejus, 
a fragore ruentis mundi, a confiagratione elementorum, a 
tempestate valida, a voce archangeli, et a verbo aspero. [Feel 
the climax of this sentence, which tells the end of the sinner.] 
Contremisco a dentibus bestiae infemalis, a ventre inferi, a 
rugientibus praeparatis ad escam. Horreo vermem rodentem, 
et ignem torrentem, fumum, et vaporem, et sulphur, et spiritum 

^ Also the accentual rhythms. Recent scholarship has done much to make 
clear the intentional use of metrical cadences in classic Greek prose. This principle 
of the cursus, as it is called {certi cursus conclusionesque verborum, Cic. Or at. 178), 
was imitated and taken over into classic Latin prose, and was applied especially 
to the closing words of clauses and periods (clausulae). As the feeling for metrical 
quantity weakened, accent, always characteristic of " vulgar " Latin, tended 
to supplant the metrical cadence not only in verse but in the cadences of prose ; 
with the result that in the fourth and fifth centuries the curstis mixtus, sometimes 
metrical and sometimes accentual, presents itself. After the sixth century, 
generally speaking, these intended rhythms at the close of clauses and sentences 
fell away, to be revived, however, in the eleventh century at the Roman Curia. 
The cultivation of the cursus became part of the Ars Didandi {ante, pp. 148 and 
156), and in some way its principles were usually followed in the better mediaeval 
prose. See A. C. Clark, The Cursus in Mediaeval and Vulgar Latin (Oxford, 1910), 
from which the substance of this note is drawn. See also Traube, Einleitung 
in die lat. Philol. des Mittelalters, pp. 115-121 (Munich, 1911), and J. Shelly, 
" Rhythmical Prose in Latin and English" {Church Quarterly Rev., April 1912). 
The substitution of accentual rhythms and rhymes for metre in mediaeval verse 
will be traced in the next chapter. 


procellarum ; horreo tenebras exteriores. Quis dabit capiti 
meo aquam, et oculis meis fontem lacrymarum ut praeveniam 
fletibus fletum, et stridorem dentium, et manuum pedumque dura 
vincula, et pondus catenanim prementium, stringentium, uren- 
tium, nee consumentium ? Heu me, mater mea ! utquid me 
genuisti filium doloris, filium amaritudinis, indignationis et 
plorationis aetemae ? Cur exceptus genibus, cur lactatus 
uberibus, natus in combustionem, et cibus ignis ? " ^ 

As one recovers from the sound and power of this high- 
wrought passage, he notices how readily it might be turned 
into the form of a Latin hymn ; and also how very modern 
is its sequence of words. Bernard's Latin could whisper 
intimate love, as well as thunder terror. He says, preaching 
on the medicina, the healing power, of Jesu's name : 

" Hoc tibi electuarium habes, o anima mea, reconditum in 
vasculo vocabuli hujus quod est Jesus, salutiferum, certe, quodque 
nulli unquam pesti tuae inveniatur inef&cax." ^ 

With the music of this prose one may compare the 
sweet personal plaint of the following : 

" Felices quos abscondit tabemaculo sue in umbra alarum 
suarum sperantes, donee transeat iniquitas. Caeterum ego 
infelix, pauper et nudus, homo natus ad laborem, implumis 
avicula pene omni tempore nidulo exsulans, vento exposita et 
turbini, turbatus sum et motus sum sicut ebrius, et omnis con- 
scientia mea devorata est." ^ 

Extracts can give no idea of Bernard's literary powers, 
any more than a small volume could tell the story of that 
life which, so to speak, was magna pars of all contemporary 
history. But since he was one of the best of Latin letter- 
writers, one should not omit an example of his varied 
epistolary style, which can be known in its compass only 
from a large reading of his letters. The following is a short 
letter, written to win back to the cloister a delicately nurtured 
youth whose parents had lured him out into the world. 

1 Sermo xvi. (Migne 183, col. 851). The power of this passage keeps it from 
being hysterical. But the monkish hysteria, without the power, may be found 
in the writings of St. Bernard's jackal, William of St. Thierry, printed in Migne, 
Pat. Lot. 180. Notice his Meditationes, for example ; also his De contemplando 
Deo, printed among St. Bernard's works (Migne 184, col. 365 sqq.). 

2 Sermo xv. (Migne 183, col. 847). Translated ante, Vol. I., p. 427. 
* Ep. xii., ad Guigonem (Migne 182, col. 116). 


" Doleo super te, fili mi Gaufride, doleo super te. Et merito. 
Quis enim non doleat florem juventutis tuae, quern laetantibus 
angelis Deo illibatum obtuleras in odorem suavitatis, nunc a 
daemonibus conculcari, vitiorum spurcitiis, et saeculi sordibus 
inquinari ? Quomodo qui vocatus eras a Deo, revocantem 
diabolum sequeris, et quern Christus trahere coeperat post se, 
repente pedem ab ipso introitu gloriae retraxisti ? In te experior 
nunc veritatem sermonis Domini, quem dixit : Inimici hominis, 
domestici ejus (Matt. x. 36). Amici tui et proximi tui adversum 
te appropinquaverunt, et steterunt. Revocaverunt te in fauces 
leonis, et in portis mortis iterum collocaverunt te. Collocaverunt 
te in obscuris, sicut mortuos saeculi : et jam parum est ut 
descendasin ventrem inf eri ; jam te deglutire festinat, ac rugienti- 
bus praeparatis ad escam tradere devorandum. 

" Revertere, quaeso, revertere, priusquam te absorbeat 
profundum, et urgeat super te puteus os suum ; priusquam 
demergaris, unde ulterius non emergas ; priusquam ligatis 
manibus et pedibus projiciaris in tenebras exteriores, ubi est 
fletus et stridor dentium ; priusquam detrudaris in locum tene- 
brosum, et opertum mortis caligine. Erubescis forte redire, 
quia ad horam cessisti. Erubesce fugam, et non post fugam reverti 
in proelium, et rursum pugnare. Necdum finis pugnae, necdum 
ab invicem dimicantes acies discesserunt : adhuc victoria prae 
manibus est. Si vis, nolumus vincere sine te, nee tuam tibi 
invidemus gloriae portionem. Laeti occuremus tibi, laetis te 
recipiemus amplexibus, dicemusque : Epulari et gaudere oportet, 
quia hie filius noster mortuus fuerat, et revixit ; perierat, et 
inventus est " (Luc. xv. 32).'^ 

The argument of this letter is, from the standpoint of 
Bernard's time, as resistless as the style. Did it win back 
the little monk ? Many wonderful examples of loving 
expression could be drawn from Bernard's letters ; '^ but, 
instead, an instance may be given of his none too subtle way 
of uttering his hate : " Amaldus de Brixia, cujus conversatio 
mel et doctrina venenum, cui caput columbae, cauda 
scorpionis est, quem Brixia avomuit, Roma exhorruit, 
Francia repulit, Germania abominatur, Italia non vult 
recipere, fertur esse vobiscum." ^ And then he proceeds to 

1 Bernard, Ep. 112, ad Gaufridum (Migne 182, col. 255). For translation 
see ante. Vol. I., p. 414. 

- E.g. Ep. i. and 144 (Migne 182, col. 70 and 300). 

^ Ep. 196, ad Guidonem (Migne 182, col. 363). Translated ante, Vol. I., 
p. 417. See also the preceding letter, 195. 


warn his correspondent of the danger of intercourse with 
this arch-enemy of the Church. 

Considering that Latin was a tongue which youths 
learned at school rather than at their mothers' knees, such 
writing as Bernard's is a triumphant recasting of an ancient 
language. One notices in him, as generally with mediaeval 
religious writers, the influence of the Vulgate, which was 
mainly in the language of St. Jerome — of Jerome when not 
writing as a literary virtuoso, but as a scholar occupied with 
rendering the meaning, and willing to accept such linguistic 
innovations as served his purpose.^ It is barely necessary 
to state that the pious Latin literature of the Middle Ages, 
besides constantly quoting from the Vulgate, is saturated 
with its words and phrases. But beyond this influence, 
one sees how masterful is Bernard's diction, quite freed 
from observance of classical principles, quite of the writer 
and his time, adapting itself with ease and power to the topic 
and character of the composition, and always expressive of 
the personality of the mighty saint. 

Hildebert of Le Mans was a few years older than St. 
Bernard. As an example of his prose a letter may be 
cited, of which the translation has been given. It was 
written in 1128, when he was Archbishop of Tours, in 
protest against the encroachments of the royal power of the 
French king, Louis the Fat, upon the rights of the Archi- 
episcopacy of Tours in the matter of ecclesiastical appoint- 
ments within that diocese : 

" In adversis nonnullum solatium est, tempera sperare laetiora. 
Diutius spes haec mihi blandita est, et velut agricolam messis in 
herba, sic animum meum prosperitatis expectatio confortavit. 
Caeterum jam nihil est quo serenitatem nimbosi temporis ex- 
spectem, nihil est quo navis, in cujus puppi sedeo, crebris agitata 
turbinibus, portum quietis attingat. 

" Silent amici, silent sacerdotes Jesu Christi. Denique silent 
et illi quorum suffragio credidi regem mecum ingratiam rediturum. 
Credidi quidem, sed super dolorem vulnenim meorum rex, illis 
silentibus, adjecit. Eorum tamen erat gravamini ecclesiae 
canonicis obviare institutis. Eorum erat, si res postulasset, 
opponere murum pro domo Israel. Verum apud serenissimum 
regem opus est exhortatione potius quam increpatione, consilio 

^ As to Jerome's two styles see Goelzer, La LatiniU de St. Jerome, Introduction. 


quam praecepto, doctrina quam virga. His ille conveniendus 
fuit, his reverenter instruendus, ne sagittas suas in sene compleret 
sacerdote, ne sanctiones canonicas evacuaret, ne persequeretur 
cineres Ecclesiae jam sepultae, cineres in quibus ego panem doloiis 
manduco, in quibus bibo calicem luctus, de quibus eripi et evadere, 
de morte ad vitam transire est. 

" Inter has tamen angustias, nunquam de me sic ira 
triumphavit, ut ahquem super Christo Domini clamorem deponere 
vellem, seu pacem ipsius in manu forti et brachio Ecclesiae 
adipisci. Suspecta est pax ad quam, non amore sed vi, subhmes 
veniunt potestates. Ea facile rescindetur, et fiunt aliquando 
novissima pejora prioribus. Alia est via qua compendiosius ad 
eam Christo perducente pertingam. Jactabo cogitatum meum 
in Domino, et ipse dabit mihi petitionem cordis mei. Recordatus 
est Dominus Joseph, cujus pincerna Pharaonis obHtus, dum 
prospera succederent, interveniendi pro eo curam abjecit. . . . 
Fortassis recordabitur et mei, atque in desiderate httore navem 
sistet fluctuantem. Ipse enim est qui respicit in orationem 
humilium, et non spernit preces eorum. Ipse est in cujus manu 
corda regum cerea sunt. Si invenero gratiam in ocuhs ejus, 
gratiam regis vel facile consequar, vel utiliter amittam. Siquidem 
offendere hominem proper Deum lucrari est gratiam Dei." ^ 

John of Salisbury (1110-1180), much younger than 
Hildebert and a little younger than Bernard, seems to have 
been the best scholar of his time. With the classics he is 
as one in the company of friends ; he cites them as readily 
as Scripture ; their sententiae have become part of his views 
of life. John was an eager humanist, who followed his 
studies to whatever town and to the feet of whatsoever 
teacher they might lead him. So he listened to Abaelard 
and many others. His writing is always lively and often 
forcible, especially when vituperating the set who despised 
classic reading. His most vivacious work, the Metalogicus, 
was directed against their unnamed prophet, whom he dubs 
" Comificius." ^ Its opening passage is of interest as John's 
exordium, and because a somewhat consciously intending 
stylist like our John is likely to exhibit his utmost virtuosity 
in the opening sentences of an important work : 

" Ad versus insigne donum naturae parentis et gratiae, cal- 
umniam veterem et majorum nostrorum judicio condemnatam 

^ Ep. ii. 33 (Migne 171, col. 256). Translation ante, p. 167. 
^ See ante, p. 159. 


excitat improbus litigator, et conquirens undique imperitiae 
suae solatia, sibi proficere sperat ad gloriam, si multos similes sui, 
id est si eos viderit imperitos ; habet enim hoc proprium arro- 
gantiae tumor, ut se commetiatur aliis, bona sua, si qua sunt, 
efferens, deprimens aliena ; defectumque proximi, suum putet 
esse profectum. Omnibus autem recte sapientibus indubium 
est quod natura, clementissima parens omnium, et dispositissima 
moderatrix, inter caetera quae genuit animantia, hominem 
privilegio rationis extulit, et usu eloquii insignivit : id agens 
sedulitate officiosa, et lege dispositissima, ut homo qui gravedine 
faeculentioris naturae et molis corporeae tarditate premebatur 
et trahebatur ad ima, his quasi subvectus alis, ad alta ascendat, 
et ad obtinendum verae beatitudinis bravium, omnia alia 
felici compendio antecedat. Dum itaque naturam fecundat 
gratia, ratio rebus perspiciendis et examinandis invigilat ; naturae 
sinus excutit, metitur fructus et efficaciam singulorum : et innatus 
omnibus amor boni, naturali urgente se appetitu, hoc, aut solum, 
aut prae caeteris sequitur, quod percipiendae beatitudini maxime 
videtur esse accommodum." ^ 

One perceives the effect of classical studies ; yet the 
passage is good twelfth-century Latin, quite different from 
the compositions of the Carolingian epoch, those, for example, 
from the pen of Alcuin, who had studied the Classics like 
John, but unlike him had no personal style. One gains 
similar impressions from the diction of the Policraticus, a 
lengthy, discursive work in which John surprises us with 

^ " Against that signal gift of parent nature and grace, a shameless wrangler 
has stirred up an old calumny, condemned by the judgment of our ancestors ; 
and, seeking everywhere comfort for his ignorance, he hopes to advance himself 
toward glory, if he shall see many like himself, see them ignorant, that is to say. 
For the tumour of arrogance has this peculiarity, that it would measure itself 
with others, exalting its own goods (if they exist), and depreciating those of 
others. And he deems his neighbour's deficiency to be his own proficiency. 

" Now it is indubitable to all truly wise, that Nature, kindest parent of all, 
and best-ordering directress, among the other living beings which she brought 
forth, distinguished man with the prerogative of reason and ennobled him with 
the exercise of eloquence (or ' with the use of speech ') : executing this with 
unremitting zeal and best-ordering decree, in order that man who was pressed 
and dragged to the lowest by the heaviness of a clodlike nature and the slowness 
of corporeal bulk, borne aloft as it were by these wings might ascend to the heights, 
and for obtaining the crown of true blessedness excel aU others in happy economy. 
While Grace thus fecundates Nature, Reason watches over the matters to be 
inspected and considered ; Nature's bosom showers, metes out the fruits and 
faculty of individuals ; and the inborn love of good, stimulating itself by its 
natural appetite, follows this [i.e. the good] either solely or before all else, which 
seems best adapted to obtaining bliss " {Metal, i. i ; Migne 199, col. 825). These 
translations are kept close to the original, in order to show the construction of 
the sentences. 


his classical equipment. Although containing many quoted 
passages, it is not made of extracts strung together ; but 
reflects the sentiments or tells the opinions of ancient 
philosophers in the writer's own way. The following shows 
John's knowledge of early Greek philosophers, and is a fair 
example of his ordinary style : 

" Alterum vero philosophorum genus est, quod lonicum 
dicitur et a Grecis ulterioribus traxit originem. Horum princeps 
fuit Tales Milesius, unus illorum septem, qui dicti sunt sapientes. 
Iste cum rerum naturam scrutatus inter ceteros emicuisset, 
maxima admirabilisexstitit quod astrologiae numeriscomprehensis 
solis et lunae defectus praedicebat. Huic successit Anaximander 
ejus auditor, qui Anaximenem discipulum reliquit et successorem. 
Diogenes quoque ejusdem auditor exstitit, et Anaxagoras qui 
omnium rerum quas videmus effectorem divinum animum docuit. 
Ei successit auditor ejus Archelaiis, cujus discipulus Socrates 
fuisse perhibetur, magister Platonis, qui teste Apuleio prius 
Aristoteles dictus est, sed deinde a latitudine pectoris Plato, et 
in tantam eminentiam philosophiae et vigore ingenii, et studii 
exercitio, et omni morum venustate eloquii quoque suavitate 
et copia subvectus est ut quasi in trono sapientiae residens, 
praecepta quadam auctoritate visus sit tarn antecessoribus quam 
successoribus philosophis imperare. Et primus quidem Socrates 
universam philosophiam ad corrigendos componendosque mores 
flexisse memoratur, cum ante ilium omnes physicis, id est rebus 
naturalibus, perscrutandis maximam operam dederint." ^ 

These extracts from the writings of saints and scholars 
may be supplemented by two extracts from compositions of 

^ " There is another class of philosophers called the Ionic, and it took its 
origin from the more remote Greeks. The first of these was Thales the Milesian, 
one of those seven who were called ' wise.' He, when he had searched out the 
nature of things, shone among his fellows, and was especially admirable because, 
comprehending the laws of astrology, he predicted eclipses of the sun and moon. 
To him succeeded his hearer, Anaximander, who (in turn) left Anaximenes as 
disciple and successor. Diogenes, likewise, was his hearer, and Anaxagoras who 
taught that the divine mind was the author of all things that we see. To him 
succeeded his hearer Archelaiis, whose disciple is said to have been Socrates, the 
master of Plato, who, according to Apuleius, was first called Aristotle, but then 
Plato from his breadth of chest, and was borne aloft to such height of philosophy, 
by vigour of genius, by assiduity of study, by every graciousness of character, and 
by sweetness and power of eloquence, that, as if seated on the throne of wisdom, 
he has seemed to command by a certain ordained authority the philosophers 
before and after him. And indeed Socrates is said to have been the first to have 
turned universal philosophy to the improvement and ordering of manners ; since 
before him all had devoted themselves chiefly to physics, that is to examining the 
things of nature " {Policraticus, vii. 5 ; Webb ii. 104, Migne 199, col. 643). 


another class. The mediaeval chronicle has not a good 
reputation. Its credulity and uncritical spirit varied with 
the time and man. Little can be said in favour of its 
general form, which usually is stupidly chronological, or 
annalistic. The example of classical historical composition 
was lost on mediaeval annalists. Yet their work is not always 
dull ; and, by the twelfth century, their diction had become 
as mediaeval as that of the theologian rhetoricians, although 
it rarely crystallizes to personal style by reason of the 
insignificance of the writers. A well-known work of this 
kind is the Gesta Dei per Francos, by Guibert of Nogent, 
who wrote his account of the First Crusade a few years after 
its turmoil had passed by. The following passage tells of 
proceedings upon the conclusion of Urban's great crusading 
oration at the Council of Clermont in 1099 : 

" Peroraverat vir excellentissimus, et omnes qui se ituros 
voverant, beati Petri potestate absolvit, eadem, ipsa apostolica 
auctoritate firmavit, et signum satis conveniens hujus tam 
honestae professionis instituit, et veluti cingulum militiae, vel 
potius militaturis Deo passionis Dominicae stigma tradens, 
crucis figuram, ex cujuslibet materiae panni, tunicis, byrris et 
palliis iturorum, assui mandavit. Quod si quis, post hujus signi 
acceptionem, aut post evidentis voti pollicitationem ab ista 
benevolentia, prava poenitudine, aut aliquorum suorum affec- 
tione resileret, ut exlex perpetuo haberetur omnino praecepit, 
nisi resipisceret ; idemque quod omiserat foede repeteret. Prae- 
terea omnes illos atroci damnavit anathemate, qui eorum uxoribus, 
filiis, aut possessionibus, qui hoc Dei iter aggrederentur, per 
integrum triennii tempus, molestiam auderent inferre. Ad 
extremum, cuidam viro omnimodis laudibus efferendo, Podiensis 
urbis episcopo, cujus nomen doleo quia neque usquam reperi, 
nee audivi, curam super eadem expeditione regenda contulit, 
et vices suas ipsi, super Christiani populi quocunque venirent 
institutione, commisit. Unde et manus ei, more apostolorum, 
data pariter benedictione, imposuit. Quod ille quam sagaciter 
sit exsecutus, docet mirabilis operis tanti exitus." ^ 

^ " The most excellent man concluded his oration, and by the power of the 
blessed Peter absolved all who had taken the vow to go, and by apostolic authority 
confirmed the same ; and he instituted a suitable sign of this so honourable vow ; 
and as a badge of soldiering (or knighthood), or rather, of being about to soldier, 
for God, he took the mark of the Lord's Passion, the figure of a cross, made from 
cloth of any kind, and ordered it to be sewed upon the tunics and cloaks of those 
about to go. But if any one, after receiving this sign, or after making open 
promise, should draw back from that good intent, by base repenting or through 


This Frenchman Guibert is almost vivacious. A certain 
younger contemporary of his, of English birth, could con- 
struct his narrative quite as well. Ordericus Vitalis 
(d. 1 142) is said to have been bom at Wroxeter, though 
he spent most of his life as monk of St. Evroult in 
Normandy. There he wrote his Historia Ecclesiastica of 
Normandy and England. His account of the loss of the 
White Ship in 11 20 tells the story : 

" Thomas, filius Stephani, regem adiit, eique marcum auri 
offerens, ait : ' Stephanas, Airardi filius, genitor meus fuit, et ipse 
in omni vita sua patri tuo in man servivit. Nam ilium, in sua 
puppe vectum, in Angliam conduxit, quando contra Haraldum 
pugnaturus, in Angliam perrexit. Hujusmodi autem officio 
usque ad mortem famulando ei placuit, et ab eo multis honoratus 
exeniis, inter contribules sues magnifice floruit. Hoc feudum, 
domine rex, a te requiro, et vas quod Can dida-N avis appellatur, 
merito ad regalem famulatum optime instnictum habeo.' Cui 
rex ait : ' Gratum habeo quod petis. Mihi quidem aptam 
navim elegi, quam non mutabo ; sed filios meos, Guillelmum et 
Richardum, quos sicut me diligo, cum multa regni mei nobilitate, 
nunc tibi commendo.' 

" His auditis, nautae gavisi sunt, filioque regis adulantes, 
vinum ab eo ad bibendum postulaverunt. At ille tres vini modios 
ipsis dari praecepit. Quibus acceptis, bibenint, sociisque abund- 
anter propinaverunt, nimiumque potantes inebriati sunt. Jussu 
regis multi barones cum filiis suis puppim ascenderunt, et fere 
trecenti, ut opinor, in infausta nave fuerunt. Duo si quidem 
monachi Tironis, et Stephanus comes cum duobus militibus, 
Guillelmus quoque de Rolmara, et Rabellus Camerarius, 
Eduardus de Salesburia, et alii plures inde exierunt, quia nimiam 
multitudinem lascivae et pompaticae juventutis inesse conspicati 
sunt. Periti enim remiges quinquaginta ibi erant, et feroces 
epibatae, qui jam in navi sedes nacti turgebant, et suimet prae 

affection for his kin, he ordained that he should be held an outlaw utterly and 
perpetually, unless he turn and set himself again to the performance of what he 
had basely neglected. 

" Furthermore, with terrible anathema he damned all who within the term of 
three years should dare to do ill to the wives, children, or property of those setting 
forth on this journey of God. And finally he committed to a certain and praise- 
worthy man (bishop of Le Puy, whose name I am sorry never to have found or 
heard) the care and regulation of the expedition, and conferred his own authority 
upon him over the disposition (?) of Christian people wherever they should come. 
Whereupon giving his benediction, in the apostolic manner, he placed his hands 
upon him. How sagaciously that one executed the behest, is shown by the 
marvellous outcome of so great an undertaking " (Guibert of Nogent, Gesta Dei 
per Francos, ii. 2 ; Migne 156, col. 702). 


ebrietate immemores, vix aliquem reverenter agnoscebant. 
Heu ! quamplures illorum mentes pia devotione erga Deum 
habebant vacuas 

' Qui maris immodicas moderatur et aeris iras.' 

Unde sacerdotes, qui ad benedicendos illos illuc accesserant, 
aliosque ministros qui aquam benedictam deferebant, cum 
dedecore et cachinnis subsannantes abigerunt ; sed paulo post 
derisionis suae ultionem receperunt. 

" Soli homines, cum thesauro regis et vasis merum ferentibus, 
Thomae carinam implebant, ipsumque ut regiam classem, quae 
jam aequora sulcabat, summopere prosequeretur, commonebant. 
Ipse vero, quia ebrietate desipiebat, in virtute sua, sateUitumque 
suorum confidebat, et audacter, quia omnes qui jam praecesserant 
praeiret, spondebat. Tandem navigandi signum dedit. Porro 
schippae remos baud segniter arripuerunt, et alia laeti, quia quid 
eis ante oculos penderet nesciebant, armamenta coaptaverunt, 
navemque cum impetu magno per pontum currere fecerunt. 
Cumque remiges ebrii totis navigarent conatibus, et infelix 
gubernio male intenderet cursui dirigendo per pelagus, ingenti 
saxo quod quotidie fluctu recedente detegitur et nirsus accessu 
maris cooperitur, sinistrum latus Candidae-Navis vehementer 
illisum est, confractisque duabus tabulis, ex insperato, navis, 
proh dolor ! sub versa est. Omnes igitur in tanto discrimine 
simul exclamaverunt ; sed aqua mox implente ora, pariter 
perierunt. Duo soli virgae qua velum pendebat manus injecerunt, 
et magna noctis parte pendentes, auxilium quodlibet praestolati 
sunt. Unus erat Rothomagensis carnifex, nomine Beroldus, et 
alter generosus puer, nomine Goisfredus, Gisleberti de Aquila 

" Tunc luna in signo Tauri nona decima fuit, et fere ix horis 
radiis suis mundum illustravit, et navigantibus mare lucidum 
reddidit. Thomas nauclerus post primam submersionem vires 
resumpsit, suique memor, super undas caput extulit, et videns 
capita eorum qui ligno utcunque inhaerebant, interrogavit : 
' Filius regis quid devenit ? ' Cumque naufragi respondissent 
ilium cum omnibus coUegis suis deperisse : ' Miserum,' inquit, 
' est amodo meum vivere.' Hoc dicto, male desperans, maluit 
iUic occumbere, quam furore irati regis pro pernicie prolis oppetere, 
seu longas in vinculis poenas lucre." ^ 

1 Hist, ecclesiastica, pars iii. lib. xii. cap. 25 (ed. Prevost, t. iv. p. 411 sqq. 
(Paris, 1852) ; Migne 188, col. 889-892). " Thomas, son of Stephen, approached 
the king, smd offering him a mark of gold, said : ' Stephen, son of Airard, was my 
sire, and all his life he served thy father [William the Conqueror] on the sea. 
For him, borne on his ship, he conveyed to England, when he proceeded to England 
in order to make war on Harold. In this manner of service serving him mitil 


Our examples thus far belong to the twelfth century. 
As touching its successor, it will be interesting to observe 
the qualities of two opposite kinds of writing, the one spring- 
ing from the intellectual activities, and the other from the 

death he gave him satisfaction, and honoured with many gifts from him, he 
prospered exceedingly among his people. This privilege, lord king, I claim of 
thee, and the vessel which is called White Ship I have ready, fitted out in the best 
manner for royal needs. To whom the king said : ' I am pleased at your petition. 
For myself indeed I have selected a proper ship, which I shall not change ; but 
my sons, William and Richard, whom I cherish as myself, with much nobility 
of my realm, I commend now to thee.' 

" Hearing these words the sailors were merry, and bowing down before the 
king's son, asked of him wine to drink. He ordered three measmres of wine to 
be given them. Receiving these they drank and pledged their comrades' health 
abundantly, and with deep potations became drunk. At the king's order many 
barons with their sons went aboard the ship, and there were about three hundred, 
as I believe, in that fatal bark. Then two monks of Tiron, and Coimt Stephen with 
two knights, also William of Rolmar, and Rabellus the chamberlain, and Edward 
of Salisbury, and a number of others, went out from it, because they saw such 
a crowd of wanton showy youth aboard. And fifty tried rowers were there and 
insolent marines, who having seized seats in the ship were brazening it, and 
forgetting themselves through drunkenness, showed respect for scarcely any one. 
Alas ! how many of them had minds void of pious devotion toward God ! — ' Who 
tempers the exceeding rages of the sea and air.' And so the priests, who had 
gone up there to bless them, and the other ministrants who bore the holy water, 
they drove away with derision and loud guffaws ; but soon after they paid the 
penalty of their mocking. 

" Only men, with the king's treasure and the vessels holding the wine, filled 
the keel of Thomas ; and they pressed him eagerly to follow the royal fleet which 
was already cutting the waves. And he himself, because he was silly from drink, 
trusted in his skill and that of his crew, and rashly promised to outstrip all who 
were now ahead of him. Then he gave the word to put to sea. At once the 
rowers snatched their oars, and because they did not know what hung before their 
eyes, they gladly adjusted their tackle, and made the ship start over the sea with 
a great bound. Now while the drunken rowers were putting forth all their strength, 
and the wretched pilot was paying slack attention to steering his course over the 
gulf, upon a great rock which daily is uncovered by the ebbing wave and again 
is covered when the sea is at flood, the port side of White Ship struck violently, 
and with two planks smashed, all imexpectedly the ship, alas ! was capsized. 
All cried out together in such a catastrophe ; but the water quickly filling their 
mouths, they perished alike. Two only cast their hands upon the boom from 
which hung the sail, and clinging to it a great part of the night, waited for some 
aid. One was a butcher of Rouen named Berold, and the other a well-born lad 
named Geoffrey, son of Gilbert of Aquila. 

" The moon was then at its nineteenth in the sign of the Bull, and lighted 
the earth for nearly nine hours with its beams, making the sea bright for navigators. 
Captain Thomas after his first submersion regained his strength, and bethinking 
himself, pushed his head above the waves, and seeing the heads of those clinging 
to some piece of wood, asked, ' What has become of the king's son ? ' When the 
shipwrecked answered that he had perished with all his companions, ' Miserable,' 
said he, ' is my life henceforth.' Saying this, and utterly despairing, he chose to 
die there, rather than meet the fury of the king enraged for the destruction of 
his children, or undergo long pimishment in chains." 


religious awakening, of the time. In the thirteenth century, 
scientific and scholastic writing was of representative import- 
ance, and deeply affected the development of Latin prose. 
Very different in style were the Latin stories and vitae of 
the blessed Francis of Assisi and other saints, composed 
in Italy. 

Roger Bacon, of whom there will be much to say, com- 
posed most of his extant works about the year 1267.^ His 
language is often rough and involved, from his impetuosity 
and eagerness to utter what was in him. But it is always 
vigorous. He took pains to say just what he meant, and 
what was worth saying; and frequently rewrote his sentences. 
His writings show little rhetoric ; yet they are stamped with 
a Baconian style, which has a cumulative force. The word- 
order is modem with scarcely a trace of the antique. Per- 
haps we may say that he wrote Latin like an Englishman 
of vehement temper and great intellect. He is powerful in 
continuous exposition ; yet instances of his general, and 
very striking statements, will illustrate his diction at its best. 
In the following sentence he recognizes the progressiveness 
of knowledge, a rare idea in the Middle Ages : 

" Nam semper posteriores addiderunt ad opera prionim, et 
multa correxerunt, et plura mutaverunt, sicut maxime per Aris- 
totelem patet, qui omnes sententias praecedentium discussit." ^ 

Again, he animadverts upon the duty of thirteenth- 
century Christians to supply the defects of the old 
philosophers : 

" Quapropter antiquorum defectus deberemus nos posteriores 
supplere, quia introivimus in labores eorum, per quos, nisi simus 
asini, possumus ad meliora excitari ; quia miserrimum est semper 
uti inventis et nunquam inveniendis." ^ 

Speaking of language, he says : 

" Impossibile est quod proprietas unius linguae servetur in 
alia." * ( " The idioms of a language cannot be preserved in a 
translation.") And again : " Omnes philosophi fuerunt post 
patriarchas et prophetas . . . et legerunt libros prophetarum et 

1 Post, Chapter XLII. ^ Opus majus, pars i. cap. 6. 

3 Op. maj. ii. cap. 14. * Op. maj. iii. i. 


patriarcharum qui sunt in sacro textu." ^ (" The philosophers 
of Greece came after the prophets of the Old Testarnent and read 
their works contained in the sacred text/') 

In the first of these sentences Bacon shows his linguistic 
insight ; in the second he reflects an uncritical view enter- 
tained since the time of the Church Fathers ; in both, he 
writes with an order of words requiring no change in an 
English translation. 

In his time, Bacon had but a sorry fame, and his works 
little influence. The writings of his younger contemporary 
Thomas Aquinas exerted greater influence than those of any 
man after Augustine. They represent the culmination of 
scholasticism. He was Italian bom, and his language, 
however difficult the matter, is lucidity itself. It is never 
rhetorical ; but measured, temperate, and balanced ; properly 
proceeding from the mind which weighed every proposition 
in the scales of universal consideration. Sometimes it gains 
a certain fervour from the clarity and import of the state- 
ment which it so lucidly conveys. In article eighth, of the 
first Quaestio, of Pars Prima of the Summa theologiae, 
Thomas thus decides that Theology is a rational {argumen- 
tativa) science : 

" Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut aliae scientiae non argu- 
mentantur ad sua principia probanda, sed ex principiis argumen- 
tantur ad ostendendum aha in ipsis scientiis ; ita haec doctrina 
non argumentatur ad sua principia probanda, quae sunt articuU 
fidei ; sed ex eis procedit ad aliquid aliud ostendendum ; sicut 
Apostolus I ad Cor. xv., ex resurrectione Christi argumentatur 
ad resurrectionem communem probandam. 

" Sed tamen consider andum est in scientiis philosophicis, 
quod inferiores scientiae nee probant sua principia, nee contra 
negantem principia disputant, sed hoc rehnquunt superiori 
scientiae : suprema vero inter eas, sciHcet metaphysica, disputat 
contra negantem sua principia, si adversarius aHquid concedit : 
si autem nihil concedit, non potest cum eo disputare, potest tamen 
solvere rationes ipsius. Unde sacra scriptura [i.e. Theology], 
cum non habeat superiorem, disputat cum negante sua principia : 
argumentando quidem,si adversarius aliquid concedat eorum quae 
per divinam revelationem habentur ; sicut per auctoritates sacrae 
doctrinae disputamus contra heriticos, et per unum articulum 

'^ op. maj. ii. 14. 


contra negantes alium. Si vero adversarius nihil credat eorum 
quae divinitus revelantur, non remanet amplius via ad pro- 
bandum articulos fidei per rationes, sed ad solvendum rationes, 
si quas inducit, contra fidem. Cum enim fides infallibili veritati 
innitatur, impossibile autem sit de vero demonstrari contrarium, 
manifestum est probationes quae contra fidem inducuntur, non 
esse demonstrationes, sed solubilia argumenta." ^ 

Of a different intellectual temperament was John oi 
Fidanza, known as St. Bonaventura.^ He also was born and 
passed his youth in Italy. This sainted General of the 
Franciscan Order was a few years older than the great 
Dominican, who was his friend. Both doctors died in the 
year 1274. Bonaventura's powers of constructive reasoning 
were excellent. His diction is clear and beautiful, and elo- 
quent with a spiritual fervour whenever the matter is such as 
to evoke it. His account of how he came to write his famous 
little Itinerarium mentis in Deum is full of temperament. 

" Cum igitur exemplo beatissimi patris Francisci hanc pacem 
anhelo spiritu quaererem, ego peccator, qui loco ipsius patris 
beatissimi post eius transitum septimus in generali fratrum minis- 
terio per omnia indignus succedo ; contigit, ut nutu divino circa 
Beati ipsius transitum, anno trigesimo tertio ad montem Alvernae 
tanquam ad locum quietum amore quaerendi pacem spiritus 
declinarem,ibique existens,dum mente tractarem aliquasmentales 
ascensiones in Deum, inter alia occurrit illud miraculum, quod in 
praedicto loco contigit ipsi beato Francisco, de visione scilicet 
Seraph alati ad instar Crucifixi. In cuius consideratione statim 
visum est mihi, quod visio ilia praetenderet ipsius patris suspen- 
sionem in contemplando et viam, per quam pervenitur ad eam." ^ 

And Bonaventura at the end of his Itinerarium speaks 
of the perfect passing of Francis into God through the very 
mystic climax of contemplation, concluding thus : 

" Si autem quaeras, quomodo haec fiant, interroga gratiam, 
non doctrinam ; desiderium, non intellectum ; gemitum orationis, 
non studium lectionis ; sponsum, non magistrum ; Deum, non 
hominem ; caliginem, non claritatem ; non lucem, sed ignem 
totaliter inflammantem et in Deum excessivis unctionibus et 
ardentissimis affectionibus transferentem." * 

1 For translation see post, Chapter XXXV. 

2 Post, Chapter XXXIX. 
^ Itinerarium mentis in Deum, Prologus, 2. 
* Ibid. cap. vii. 6. For translations see post, Chapter XXXIX. 


Bonaventura's fervent diction will serve to carry us over 
from the more unmitigated intellectuality of Bacon and 
Thomas to the simpler matter of those personal and pious 
narratives from which may be drawn concluding illustrations 
of mediaeval Latin prose. Some of the authors will show 
the skill which comes from training ; others are quite 
innocent of grammar, and their Latin has made a happy 
surrender to the genius of their vernacular speech, which 
was the lingua vulgaris of northern Italy. * 

One of the earliest biographers of St. Francis of Assisi 
was Thomas of Celano, a skilled Latinist, who was enraptured 
with the loveliness of Francis's life. His diction is limpid 
and rhjrthmical, A well-known passage in his Vita prima 
(for he wrote two Lives) tells of Francis's joyous assurance of 
the great work which God would accomplish through the 
simple band who formed the beginnings of the Order. This 
assurance crystallized in a vision of multitudes hurrying to 
join. Francis speaks to the brethren : 

" Confortamini, charissimi, et gaudete in Domino, nee, quia 
pauci videmini, efficiamini tristes. Ne vos deterreat mea, vel 
vestra simplicitas, quoniam sicut mihi a Domino in veritate 
ostensum est, in maximam multitudinem faciet vos crescere Deus, 
et usque ad fines orbis multipliciter dilatabit. Vidi multitudinem 
magnam hominum ad nos venientium, et in habitu sanctae 
conversationis beataeque religionis regula nobiscum volentium 
conversari ; et ecce adhuc sonitus eorum est in auribus meis, 
euntium,et redeuntium secundum obedientiae sanctae mandatum: 
vidique vias ipsorum multitudine plenas ex omni fere natione 
in his partibus convenire. Veniunt Francigenae, festinant 
Hispani, Teuthonici, et Anglici currunt, et aliarum diversarum 
linguarum accelerat maxima multitude. 

" Quod cum audissent fratres, repleti sunt gaudio Salvatoris 
sive propter gratiam, quam dominus Deus contulerat sancto suo, 
sive quia proximorum lucrum sitiebant ardenter, quos desider- 
abant ut salvi essent, in idipsum quotidie augmentari." ^ 

We feel the flow and rhythm, and note the agreeable 
balancing of clauses. Francis died in 1226. The Vita 
prima by Celano was approved by Gregory IX. in 1229. 
Already other matter touching the saint was gathering in 

^ Vita prima, cap. xi. Translated ante, Vol. I., p. 444. 


anecdote and narrative. Much of it was brought together 
in the so-called Speculum perfedionis, which has been con- 
fidently but very questionably ascribed to Francis's personal 
disciple, Brother Leo. Brother Leo, or whoever may have 
been the narrator or compiler, was no scholar ; his Latm is 
naively incorrect, and has also the simphcity of Gospel 
narrative. An interesting passage tells with what loving 
wisdom Francis interpreted a text of Scripture : 

" Manente ipso apud Senas venit ad eum quidam doctor sacrae 
theologiae de ordine Praedicatorum, vir utique humihs et spintu- 
aUs valde. Quum ipse cum beato Francisco de verbis Domini 
simul aliquamdiu contulissent interrogavit eum magister de lUo | 
verbo Ezechielis : Si non annuntiaveris tmpto impietatem suam 
animam ejus de manu tua requiram. Dixit enim : ' Multos, bone 
pater ego cognosco in peccato mortali qmbus non annuntio 
impietatem eorum, numquid de manu mea ipsorum ammae 

requirentur ? ' , . ,. ^ j. -j 

" Cui beatus Franciscus humiliter dixit se esse idiotam et ideo 
magis expedire sibi doceri ab eo quam super scripturae sententiam 
respondere. Tunc ille humiUs magister adjecit : ' Frater, beet 
ab aliquibus sapientibus hujus verbi expositionem audivenm 
tamen libenter super hoc vestrum perciperem mteUectum. Dixit 
ergo beatus Franciscus : ' Si verbum debeat generaUter mtelligi, 
ego taliter accipio ipsum quod servus Dei sic debet vita et sanc- 
titate in seipso ardere vel fulgere ut luce exempli et Ungua sanctae 
conversationis omnes impios reprehendat. Sic, mquam, splendor 
eius et odor famae ipsius annuntiabit omnibus imquitates eorum. 
" Plurimum itaque doctor ille aedificatus recedens dixit socus 
beati Francisci : ' Fratres mei, theologia hujus viri puntate et 
contemplatione subnixa est aquila volans, nostra vero scientia 
ventre graditur super terram.' " ^ 

Another passage has Francis breaking out in song from 
the joy of his love of Christ : 

" Ebrius amore et compassione Christi beatus Franciscus 
quandoque taUa faciebat, nam dulcissima melodia spiritus intra 
se ipsum ebulliens frequenter exterius gallice dabat sonum et 
vena divini susurrii quam auris ejus suscipiebat furtive gaUicum 
erumpebat in jubilum. . 

"Lignum quandoque coUigebat de terra ipsumque smistro 
brachio superponens aliud Hgnum per modum arcus m manu 

1 spec, perfedionis, ed. Sabatier, cap. 53- Translated ante, Vol. I., p. 443- 


dextera trahebat super illud, quasi super viellam vel aliud 
instrumentum atque gestus ad hoc idoneos faciens gallice 
cantabat de Domino Jesu Christo. Terminabatur denique tota 
haec tripudiatio in lacrymas et in compassionem passionis Christi 
hie jubilus solvebatur. 

" In his trahebat continue suspiria et ingeminatis gemitibus 
eorum quae tenebat in manibus obHtus suspendebatur ad 
caelum." ^ 

This Latin is as childlike as the Old Italian of the 
Fioretti of St. Francis ; it has a like word-order, and one 
might almost add, a like vocabulary. The simple, ignorant 
writer seems as if held by a direct and personal inspiration 
from the familiar life of the sweet saint. His language 
reflects that inspiration, and mirrors his own childlike 
character. Hence he has a style, direct, effective, moving 
to tears and joy, like his impression of the blessed Francis. 

A not dissimilar kind of childlike Latin could attain to 
a remarkable symmetry and balance. The Legenda aurea 
is before us, written by the Dominican Jacobus a Voragine, 
by race a Genoese, and living toward the close of the 
thirteenth century. This book was the most popular 
compend of saints' lives in use in the later Middle Ages. 
Its stories are told with fascinating naivete. We cite the 
opening sentences from its chapter on the Annunciation, 
just to show the harmony and balance of its periods. The 
passage is exceptional and almost formal in these qualities : 

" Annunciatio dominica dicitur, quia in tali die ab angelo 
adventus filii Dei in carnem fuit annuntiatus, congruum enim fuit, 
ut incarnationem praecederet angelica annuntiatio,triplici ratione. 
Primo ratione ordinis connotandi, ut scilicet ordo reparationis 
responderet ordini praevaricationis. Unde sicut dyabolus tentavit 
mulierem,uteam pertraheret ad dubitationem et perdubitationem 
ad consensum et per consensum ad lapsum, sic angelus nuntiavit 
virgini, ut nuntiando excitaret ad fidem et per fidem ad consensum 
et per consensum ad concipiendum Dei filium. Secundo ratione 
ministerii angelici, quia enim angelus est Dei minister et servus et 
beata virgo electa erat, ut esset Dei mater, et congruum est 
ministrum dominae famulari, conveniens fuit, ut beatae virgini 
annuntiatio per angelum fieret. Tertio ratione lapsus angelici 

1 Spec, perfectionis, ed. Sabatier, cap. 93. Translated ante, Vol. I., p. 448. 


reparandi. Quia enim incarnatio non tantum faciebat ad repara- 
tionem humani lapsus, sed etiam ad reparationem ruinae angelicae, 
ideo angeli non debuerunt excludi. Unde sicut sexus mulieris 
non excluditur a cognitione mysterii incarnationis et resurrec- 
tionis, sic etiam nee angelicus nuntius. Imo Deus utrumque 
angelo mediante nuntiat mulieri, scilicet incarnationem virgin! 
Mariae et resurrectionem Magdelenae." ^ 

These extracts bring us far into the thirteenth century. 
Two hundred years later, mediaeval Latin prose, if one 
may say so, sang its swan song in that little book which 
is a last, sweet, and. composite echo of all mellifluous 
mediaeval piety. Yet perhaps this De imitatione Christi of 
Thomas a Kempis can scarcely be classed as prose, so full 
is it of assonances and rhythms fit for chanting. 

1 Cap. li., ed. Graesse. 

" The Annunciation of our Lord is so called, because on that day by an angel 
the advent of the Son of God in the flesh v/as announced, for it was fitting that the 
angelical annunciation should precede the incarnation, for a threefold reason. 
First, by reason of betokening the order, that to wit the order of reparation should 
answer to the order of transgression. Accordingly as the devil tempted the 
woman, that he should draw her to doubt and through doubt to consent and 
through consent to fall, so the angel announced to the Virgin, that by announcing 
he should arouse her to faith and through faith to consent and through consent to 
conceiving God's son. Secondly, by reason of the angelic ministry, because since 
the angel is God's minister and servant, and the blessed Virgin was chosen in 
order that she might be God's mother, and it is fitting that the minister should 
serve the mistress, so it was proper that the annunciation to the blessed Virgin 
should take place through an angel. Thirdly, by reason of repairing the angelical 
fall. Because since the incarnation worked not only for the reparation of the 
human fall, but also for the reparation of the angelical catastrophe, therefore 
the angels ought not to be excluded. Accordingly as the female sex is not excluded 
from knowledge of the mystery of the incarnation and resurrection, so also neither 
the angelical messenger. Behold, God twice announces to a woman by a mediating 
angel, both the incarnation to the Virgin Mary and the resurrection to the Magda- 
lene." The order of the Latin words is scarcely changed in the translation. 



I. Metrical Verse. 
II. Substitution of Accent for Quantity. 

III. Sequence-Hymn and Student-Song. 

IV. Passage of Themes into the Vernacular. 

In mediaeval Latin poetry the endeavour to preserve a 
classical style and the irresistible tendency to evolve new 
forms are more palpably distinguishable than in the prose. 
For there is a visible parting of the ways between the reten- 
tion of the antique metres and their fruitful abandonment 
in verses built of accentual rhyme. Moreover, this formal 
divergence corresponds to a substantial difference, inasmuch 
as there was usually a larger survival of antique feeling and 
allusion in the mediaeval metrical attempts than in the 
rhyming poems. 

As in the prose, so in the poetry, the lines of development 
may be followed from the Carolingian time. But a difference 
will be found between Italy and the North ; for in Italy the 
course was quicker, while a less organic evolution resulted in 
verse less excellent and less distinctly mediaeval. By the 
end of the eleventh century, Latin poetry in Italy, rhyming 
or metrical, seems to have drawn itself along as far as it was 
destined to progress ; but in the North a richer growth 
culminates a century later. Indeed the most originative line 
of evolution of mediaeval Latin verse would seem to have 
been confined to the North in the main if not exclusively. 

The following pages offer no history of mediaeval Latin 
poetry, even as the previous chapter made no attempt to 
sketch the history of the prose. Their object is to point 



out the general lines along which the verse-forms were 
developed, or were perhaps retarded. Three may be dis- 
tinguished. The first is marked by the retention of quantity 
and the endeavour to preserve the ancient measures. In 
the second, accent and rhyme gradually take the place of 
metre within the old verse-forms. The third is that of the 
Sequence, wherein the accentual rhyming hymn springs from 
the chanted prose, which had superseded the chanting of the 
final a of the Alleluia.^ 

The lover of classical Greek and Latin poetry knows the 
beautiful fitness of the ancient measures for the thought and 
feeling which they enframed. If his eyes chance to fall on 
some twelfth-century Latin hymn, he will be struck by its 
different quality. He will quickly perceive that classic forms 
would have been unsuited to the Christian and romantic 
sentiment of the mediaeval period,^ and will realize that 
some vehicle besides metrical verse would have been needed 
for this thoroughly declassicized feeling, even had metrical 
quantity remained a vital element of language, instead of 
passing away some centuries before. Metre was but con- 
vention in the time of Charlemagne. Yet it kept its sway 
with scholars, and could not lack votaries so long as classical 
poetry made part of the Ars grammatica or was read for 
delectation. Metrical composition did not cease throughout 
the Middle Ages. But it was not the true mediaeval style, 
and became obviously academic as accentual verse was 
perfected and made fit to carry spiritual emotion. Never- 

1 In order that no reader may be surprised at the absence of discussion of the 
antique antecedents of the more particular genres of mediaeval poetry (Latin and 
Vernacular), I would emphasize the impossibility of entering upon such exhaust- 
less topics. Probably the very general assumption wUl be correct in most cases, 
that genres of mediaeval poetry (e.g. the Conflicts or DSbats in Latin and Old 
French) revert to antecedents sufficiently marked for identification, in the antique 
Latin (or Greek) poetry, or in the (extant or lost) productions of the " low " 
Latin period from the third century downward. An idea of the difficulty and 
range of such matters may be gained from Jeanroy, Les Origines de la poSsie 
lyrique en France au moyen Sge (Paris, 1889), and the admirable review of this 
work by Gaston Paris in the Journal des savants for 1891 and 1892 (four articles). 
Cf. also Batiouchkof in Romania, xx. (1891), pages i sqq. and 513 sqq. 

' Cf. Taylor, Classical Heritage of the Middle Ages, chap. ix. 


theless, the simpler metres were cultivated successfully by 
the best scholars of the twelfth century. 

Most of the Latin poetry of the Carolingian period was 
metrical, if we are to judge from the mass that remains. 
Reminiscence of the antique enveloped educated men, with 
whom the mediaeval spirit had not reached distinctness of 
thought and feeUng, So the poetry resembled the contem- 
porary sculpture and painting, in which the antique was 
still unsuperseded by any new style. Following the antique 
metres, using antique phrase and commonplace, often copy- 
ing antique sentiment, this poetry was as dull as might be 
expected from men who were amused by calling each other 
Homer, Virgil, Horace, or David. Usually the poets were 
ecclesiastics, and interested in theology ; ^ but many of the 
pieces are conventionally profane in topic, and as humanistic 
as the Latin poetry of Petrarch. ^ Moreover, just as Petrarch's 
Latin poetry was still-bom, while his Italian sonnets live, so 
the Carolingian poetry, when it forgets itself and falls away 
from metre to accentual verse, gains some degree of life. At 
this early period the Romance tongues were not a fit poetic 
vehicle, and consequently living thoughts, which with Dante 
and Petrarch found voice in Italian, in the ninth century 
began to stammer in Latin verses that were freed from the 
dead rules of quantity, and were already vibrant with a vital 
feeling for accent and rhyme. ^ 

Through the tenth century metrical composition became 
rougher, yet sometimes drew a certain force from its rudeness. 
A good example is the famous Waltarius, or Waltharilied, of 
Ekkehart of St. Gall, composed in the year 960 as a school 
exercise.* The theme was a German story found in ver- 
nacular poetry. Ekkehart's hexameters have a strong Teuton 
flavour, and doubtless some of the vigour of his paraphrase 
was due to the German original. 

^ There is much verse from noted men, Alcuin, Paulus Diaconus, Walafrid 
Strabo, Rabanus Maurus, Theodulphus. It is all to be found in the collection of 
Diimmler and Traube, Poetae Latini aevi Carolini (Mon. Germ. 1880-1896). 

^ It is amusing to find a poem by Walafrid Strabo turning up as a favourite 
among sixteenth - century humanists. The poem referred to, " De cultura 
hortorum " [Poet. Lat. aev. Car. ii. 335-350), is a poetic treatment of gardening, 
reminiscent of the Georgics, but not imitating their structure. It has many 
allusions to pagan mythology. 

^ Post, p. 222 sqq. * Ante, Vol. I., p. 147. 


The metrical poems of the eleventh century have been 
spoken of already, especially the more interesting ones 
written in Italy. ^ Most of the Latin poetry emanating from 
that classic land was metrical, or so intended. Frequently 
it tells the story of wars, or gives the Gesta of notable lives, 
making a kind of versified biography. One feels as if verse 
was employed as a refuge from the dead annalistic form. 
This poetry was a semi-barbarizing of the antique, without 
new formal or substantial elements. Italy, one may say, 
hardly became essentially and creatively mediaeval : the 
pressure of antique survival seems to have barred original 
development ; Italians took little part in the great mediaeval 
military religious movements, the Crusades ; no strikingly 
new architecture arose with them ; their first vernacular 
poetry was an imitation or a borrowing from Provence and 
France ; and by far the greater part of their Latin poetry 
presents an uncreative barbarizing of the antique metres. 

These remarks find illustration in the principal Latin 
poems composed in Italy in the twelfth century. Among 
them one observes differences in skill, knowledge, and 
tendency. Some of the writers made use of leonine 
hexameters, others avoided the rhyme. But they were all 
akin in lack of excellence and originality both in composition 
and verse-form. There was the monk Donizo of Canossa, 
who wrote the Vita of the great Countess Matilda ; ^ there 
was William of Apulia, Norman in spirit if not in blood, 
who wrote of the Norman conquests in Apulia and Sicily ; ' 
also the anonymous and barbarous De hello et excidio urbis 

1 Ante, Chapter XI., in. 

^ The following leonine hexameters are attributed to Donizo : 
" Chrysopolis dudum Graecorum dicitur usu, 
Aurea sub lingua sonat haec Urbs esse Latina, 
Scilicet Urbs Parma, quia grammatica manet alta, 
Artes ac septem studiose sunt ibi lectae." 

Muratori, Antiquitates, iii. p. 912. 
^ William was a few years older than Donizo, and died about the year iioo. 
His hero is Robert Guiscard, and his poem closes with this bid for the favour of 
his son, Roger : 

" Nostra, Rogere, tibi cognoscis carmina scribi, 
Mente tibi laeta studuit parere Poeta : 
Semper et auctores hilares meruere datores ; 
Tu duce Romano Dux dignior Octaviano, 
Sis mihi, quaeso, boni spes, ut fuit ille Maroni." 

Muratori, Scriptores, v. 247-248. 


Comensis, in which is told the destruction of Gomo by Milan 
between 1118 and 1127 ; ^ then the metrically jingling 
Pisan chronicle narrating the conquest of the island of 
Majorca, and beginning (like the Aeneid !) with 

" Anna, rates, populum vindictam coelitus octam 
Scribimus, ac duros terrae pelagique labores;" ^ 

We also note Peter of Ebulo, with his narrative in 
laudation of the emperor Henry VI., written about 1194 ; 
Henry of Septimella and his elegies upon the checkered 
fortunes of divers great men ; ^ and lastly the more famous 
Godfrey of Viterbo, of probable German blood, and notary 
or scribe to three successive emperors, with his cantafable 
Pantheon or Memoria saecularum^ Godfrey's poetry is 
rhymed after a manner of his own. 

In the North, or more specifically speaking in the land 
of France north of the Loire, the twelfth century brought 
better metrical poetry than in Italy. Yet it had something 
of the deadness of imitation, since the vis vivida of song had 
passed over into rhyming verse. Still from the academic 
point of view, metre was the proper vehicle of poetry ; as 
one sees, for instance, in the Ars versificatoria of Matthew 
of Vendome,^ written toward the close of the twelfth century. 
" Versus est metrica descriptio," says he, and then elaborates 
his, for the most part borrowed, definition : "Verse is metrical 
description proceeding concisely and line by line through 
the comely marriage of words to flowers of thought, and 
containing nothing trivial or irrelevant." A neat conception 
this of poetry ; and the same writer denounces leonine 
rhyming as unseemly, but praises the favourite metre of 
the Middle Ages, the elegiac ; for he regards the hexameter 
and pentameter as together forming the perfect verse. It 
was in this metre that Hildebert wrote his almost classic 

^ Mxiratori, Script, v. 407-457. 
^ Muratori, Script, vi. 110-161 ; also in Migne. 

' Written at the close of the twelfth century. On these people see Ronca, 
Cultura medioevale e poesia Latina d! Italia (Rome, 1892). 

* Muratori, vii. pp. 349-482 ; Waitz, Mon. Germ. xxii. 1-338. Godfrey lived 
from about 1120 to the close of the century. The Pantheon was completed in 
1 185. Of. L. Delisle, Instructions du comitS des travaux historiques, etc. ; LittSrature 
Mine, p. 41 (Paris, 1890). 

* Matthaei Vindocinensis ars versificatoria, L. Bourgain (Paris, 1879). 


elegy over the ruins of Rome. A few lines have been 
quoted from it ; ^ but the whole poem, which is not long, is 
of interest as one of the very best examples of a mediaeval 
Latin elegy : 

" Par tibi, Roma, nihil, cum sis prope tota ruina ; 

Quam magni fueris integra fracta doces. 
Longa tuos fastus aetas destruxit, et arces 

Caesaris et superum templa palude jacent. 
Ille labor, labor ille ruit quem dirus Araxes 

Et stantem tremuit et cecidisse dolet ; 
Quem gladii regum, quem provida cura senatus, 

Quem superi rerum constituere caput ; 
Quem magis optavit cum crimine solus habere 

Caesar, quam socius et pius esse socer. 
Qui, crescens studiis tribus, hostes, crimen, amicos 

Vi domuit, secuit legibus, emit ope ; 
In quem, dum fieret, vigilavit cura priorum : 

Juvit opus pietas hospitis, unda, locus. 
Materiem, fabros, expensas axis uterque 

Misit, se muris obtulit ipse locus. 
Expendere duces thesauros, fata favorem. 

Artifices studium, totus et orbis opes. 
Urbs cecidit de qua si quicquam dicere dignum 

Moliar, hoc potero dicere : Roma fuit. 
Non tamen annorum series, non flamma, nee ensis 

Ad plenum potuit hoc abolere decus. 
Cura hominum potuit tantam componere Romam 

Quantam non potuit solvere cura deum. 
Confer opes marmorque novum superumque favorem, 

Artificum vigilent in nova facta manus, 
Non tamen aut fieri par stanti machina muro, 

Aut restaurari sola ruina potest. 
Tantum restat adhuc, tantum ruit, ut neque pars stans 

Aequari possit, diruta nee refici. 
Hie superum formas superi mirantur et ipsi, 

Et cupiunt fictis vultibus esse pares. 
Non potuit natura deos hoc ore creare 

Quo miranda deum signa creavit homo. 
Vultus adest his numinibus, potiusque coluntur 

Artificum studio quam deitate sua. 
Urbs felix, si vel dominis urbs ilia careret, 

Vel dominis esset turpe carere fide."^ 

The elegiac metre was used by Abaelard in his didactic 

1 Ante, Chapter XXXI., in. 

^ Text from Haureau, Les Melanges poetiques (THildebert de Lavardin, p. 60 ; 
also in Notices des manuscrits de la bih. nat. t. 28, and part (1878), p. 331. 


poem to his son Astralabius,^ and by John of Salisbury in 
his Entheticus. The hexameter also was a favourite measure, 
used, for instance, by Alanus of Lille in the Antidaudianus, 
perhaps the noblest of mediaeval narrative or allegorical 
poems in Latin. ^ Another excellent composition in hexa- 
meter was the Alexandreis of Walter, bom, like Alanus, 
apparently at Lille, but commonly called of Chatillon. As 
poets and as classical scholars, these two men were worthy 
contemporaries. Walter's poem follows, or rather enlarges 
upon the Life of Alexander by Quintus Curtius.^ He is 
said to have written it on the challenge of Matthew of 
Vendome, him of the Ars versificatona. The Ligurinus of 
a certain Cistercian Gunther is still another good example 
of a long narrative poem in hexameters. It sets forth 
the career of Frederick Barbarossa, and was written shortly 
after the opening of the thirteenth century. Its author, 
like Walter and Alanus, shows himself widely read in the 

The sapphic was a third not infrequently attempted 
metre, of which the De planctu naturae of Alanus contains 
examples. This work was composed in the form of the De 
consolatione philosophiae of Boethius, where Ijnrics alternate 
with prose. The general topic was Nature's complaint over 
man's disobedience to her laws. The author apostrophizes 
her in the following sapphics : 

" O Dei proles, genitrixque rerum, 

Vinculum mundi, stabilisque nexus. 

Gemma terrenis, speculum caducis, 
Lucifer orbis. 

Pax, amor, virtus, regimen, potestas, 

Ordo, lex, finis, via, dux, origo. 

Vita, lux, splendor, species, figura 
Regula mundi. 

1 Haureau gives a critical text of the Carmen ad Astralabium filium in Notices 
et extraits, etc., 34, part ii., p. 153 sqq. Other not unpleasing instances of elegiac 
verse are afforded by the poems of Baudri, Abbot of Bourgueil (d. 1130). They 
are occasional and fugitive pieces — nugae, if we will. See L. Delisle, Romania, 
i. 22-50. 

^ The substance of this poem has been given ante. Chapter XXX. On Alanus 
see also post. Chapter XXXVII., in. 

^ It is printed in Migne 209. Cf. post, p. 259, note i. 

* The Ligurinus is printed in tome 212 of Migne's Patrol. Lat. On its author 
see Pannenborg, Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte, Band ii. pp. 161-301, and 
Band xiii. pp. 225-331 (Gottingen, 1871 and 1873). 


Quae tuis mundum moderas habenis, 
Cuncta concordi stabilita nodo 
Nectis et pacis glutino maritas 

Coelica terris. 
Quae noys {vovs) plures recolens idesis 
Singulas rerum species monetans, 
Res togas formis, chlamidemque formae 

PoUice forraas. 
Cui favet coelum, famulatur aer, 
Quam colit Tellus, veneratur unda, 
Cui velut mundi dominae tributum 

Singula solvunt. 
Quae diem nocti vicibus catenans 
Cereum solis tribuis diei, 
Lucido lunae speculo soporans 

Nubila noctis. 
Quae polum, stellis variis inauras, 
Aetheris nostri solium serenans 
Siderum gemmis, varioque coelum 

Milite complens. 
Quae novis coeli faciem figuris 
Protheans mutas aridumque vulgus 
Aeris nostri regione donans, 

Legeque stringis. 
Cujus ad nutum juvenescit orbis, 
Silva crispatur foUi capillo, 
Et tua florum tunicata veste, 

Terra superbit. 
Quae minas ponti sepelis, et auges, 
Syncopans cursum pelagi furori 
Ne soli tractum tumulare possit 

Aequoris aestus." ^ 

Practically all of our examples have been taken from 
works composed in the twelfth century, and in the land 
comprised under the name of France. The pre-excellence 
of this period will likewise appear in accentual rhyming 
Latin poetry, which was more spontaneous and living than 
its loftily descended relative. 


The academic vogue of metre in the early Middle Ages 
did not prevent the growth of more natural poetry. The 

^ Alanus de Insulis, De planctu naturae (Migne 210, col. 447). A translation 
of the work has been made by D. M. Moffat (New York, 1908). For other 
examples of Sapphic and Alcaic verses see Haureau in Notices et extraits, etc., 31 
(2), p. 165 sqq. 


Irish had their GaeUc poems ; people of Teutonic speech had 
their rough verse based on aUiteration and the count of the 
strong syllables. The Romance tongues emerging from 
the common Latin were as yet poetically untried. But in 
the proper Latin, which had become as unquantitative and 
accentual as any of its vulgar forms, there was a tonic poetry 
that was no longer unequipped with rhyme. 

Three rhythmic elements made up this natural mode of 
Latin versification : the succession of accented and un- 
accented syllables ; the number of syllables in a line ; and 
that regularly recurring sameness of sound which is called 
rhyme. The source of the first of these seems obvious. 
Accent having driven quantity from speech, came to super- 
sede it in verse, with the accented syllable taking the place 
of the long syllable and the unaccented the place of the short. 
In the Carolingian period accentual verse followed the old 
metrical forms, with this exception : the metrical principle 
that one long is equivalent to two shorts was not adopted. 
Consequently the number of syllables in the successive lines of 
an accentual strophe would remain the same, where in the 
metrical antecedent they might have varied. This is also 
sufficient to account for the second element, the observance 
of regularity in the number of syllables. For this regularity 
seems to follow upon the acceptance of the principle that in 
rhythmic verse an accented syllable is not equal to two 
unaccented ones. The query might perhaps be made why 
this Latin accentual verse did not take up the principle of 
regularity in the number of strong syllables in a line, like 
Old High German poetry for example, where the number of 
unaccented syllables, within reasonable limits, is indifferent. 
A ready answer is that these Latin verses were made by 
people of Latin speech who had been acquainted with 
metrical forms of poetry, in which the number of syllables 
might vary, but was never indifferent ; for the metrical rule 
was rigid that one long was equivalent to two short ; and to 
no more and no less. Hence the short syllables were as 
fixed in number as the long.^ 

^ Wilhelm Meyer, a leading authority upon mediaeval Latin verse-structure, 
derives the principle of a like number of syllables in every line from eastern 
Semitic influence upon the early Christians. See Fragmenfa Burana (Berlin, 


The origin of the third element, rhyme, is in dispute. 
In some instances it may have passed into Greek and Latin 
verses from Syrian hymns. ^ But on the other hand it had 
long been an occasional element in Greek and Latin 
rhetorical prose. Probably rhyme in Latin accentual verse 
had no specific origin. It gradually became the sharpening, 
defining element of such verse. Accentual Latin lent itself 
so naturally to rhyme, that had not rhyme become a fixed 
part of this verse, there indeed would have been a fact to 

These, then, were the elements : accent, number of 
syllables, and rhyme. Most interesting is the development 
of verse-forms. Rhythmic Latin poetry came through the 
substitution of accent for quantity, and probably had many 
prototypes in the old jingles of Roman soldiers and 
provincials, which so far as known were accentual, rather 
than metrical. Christian accentual poetry retained those 
simple forms of iambic and trochaic verse which most readily 
submitted to the change from metre to accent, or perhaps 
one should say, had for centuries offered themselves as 
natural forms of accentual verse. Apparently the change 
from metre to accent within the old forms gradually took 
place between the sixth and the tenth centuries. During 
this period there was slight advance in the evolution of new 
verses ; nor was the period creative in other respects, as 
we have seen. But thereafter, as the mediaeval centuries 
advanced from the basis of a mastered patristic and antique 
heritage, and began to create, there followed an admirable 
evolution of verse-forms, which in some instances apparently 
issued from the old metrico-accentual forms, and in others 
developed independently by virtue of the faculty of song 
meeting the need of singing. 

This factor wrought with power — the human need and 
cognate faculty of song, a need and faculty stimulated in the 
Middle Ages by religious sentiment and emotion. In the 

1901), pp. 151, 166. That may have had its effect ; but I do not see the need 
of any cause from afar to accoxmt for the syllabic regularity of Latin accentual 

1 Again WUhelm Meyer's view : see I.e. and the same author's " Anfange 
der latein. und griech. rhythmischen Dichtung," Abhar.d. der Bairiah. Akad. 
Philos., philol. Klasse, 1886. 


fusing of melody and words into an utterance of song — at last 
into a strophe — music worked potently, shaping the com- 
position of the lines, moulding them to rhythm, insisting upon 
sonorousness in the words, promoting their assonance, and 
at last compelling them to rhyme so as to meet the stress, 
or mark the ending, of the musical periods. Thus the 
exigencies of melody helped to evoke the finished verse, 
while the words reciprocating through their vocal capabilities 
and through the inspiration of their meaning, aided the 
evolution of the melodies. In fine, words and melody, each 
quickened by the other, and each moulding the other to 
itself, attained a perfected strophic unison ; and mediaeval 
musician-poets achieved at last the finished verses of hymns 
or Sequences and student-songs. 

There were two distinct lines of evolution of accentual 
Latin verse in the Middle Ages ; and although the faculty 
of song was a moving energy in both, it worked in one of 
them more palpably than in the other. Along the one line, 
accentual verse developed pursuant to the ancient forms, 
displacing quantity with accent, and evolving rhyme. The 
other line of evolution had no connection with the antique. 
It began with phrases of sonorous prose, replacing inarticulate 
chant. These, under the influence of music, through the 
creative power of song, were by degrees transformed to 
verse. The evolution of the Sequence-hymn will be the 
chief illustration. With the finished accentual Latin poetry 
of the twelfth century it may become impossible to tell 
which line of rhjrthmic evolution holds the antecedent of a 
given poem. In truth, this final and perfected verse may 
often have a double ancestry, descending from the rhythms 
which had superseded metre, and being also the child of 
mediaeval melody. Yet there is no difficulty in tracing by 
examples the two lines of evolution. 

To illustrate the strain of verse which took its origin in 
the displacement of metre by accent and rhjnne, we must look 
back as far as Fortunatus. He was bom about the year 
530 in northern Italy, but he passed his eventful life among 
Franks and Thuringians. A scholar and also a poet, he 
had a fair mastery of metre ; yet some of his poems evince 
the spirit of the coming mediaeval time both in sentiment 



and form. He wrote two famous hymns, one of them m the 
popular trochaic tetrameter, the other in the equally simple 
iambic dimeter. The first, a hymn to the Cross, begins with 
the never-to-be-forgotten 

" Pange, lingua, gloriosi proelium certaminis " ; 

and has such lines as 

" Crux fidelis, inter oranes arbor una nobilis 

Dulce lignum, dulce clavo dulce pondus sustinens ! " 

In these the mediaeval feeling for the Cross shows itself, 
and whUe the metre is correct, it is so facile that one may 
read or sing the lines accentually. In the other hymn, also 
to the Cross, assonance and rhyme foretell the coming 
transformation of metre to accentual verse. Here are the 
first two stanzas : 

" Vexilla regis prodeunt, 
Fulget crucis mysterium, 
Quo carne carnis conditor 
Suspensus est patibulo. 

Confixa clavis viscera 
Tendens manus, vestigia 
Redemtionis gratia 
Hie immolata est hostia." 

Passing to the Carolingian epoch, some lines from a 

poem celebrating the victory of Charlemagne's son Pippin 

over the Avars in 796, will illustrate the popular trochaic 

tetrameter which had become accentual, and already tended 

to rh5niie : 

" Multa mala iam fecerunt ab antico tempore, 
Fana dei destruxerunt atque monasteria, 
Vasa aurea sacrata, argentea, fictilia." ^ 

Next we turn to a piece by the persecuted and interesting 
Gottschalk, written in the latter part of the ninth century. 
A young lad has asked for a poem. But how can he sing, 
the exiled and imprisoned monk who might rather weep as the 
Jews by the waters of Babylon ? ^ yet he will sing a hymn 

^ Poet. Laf. aev. Car. i. ii6. Cf. Ebert, Gesch. etc. ii. 86. For similar verses 
see those on the battle at Fontanetum (a.d. 841), Poet. Lai. aev. Car. ii. 138, and 
the carmen against the town of Aquilegia, ibid. p. 150. 

2 Cf. ante, Vol. I., pp. 224 sqq. 


to the Trinity, and bewail his piteous lot before the highest 
pitying Godhead. The verses have a lyric unity of mood, 
and are touching with their sad refrain. Their rhyme, if not 
quite pure, is abundant and catching, and their nearest 
metrical affinity would be a trochaic dimeter. 

" I. Ut quid iubes, pusiole, 
quare mandas, filiole, 
carmen dulce me cantare, 
cum sim longe exul valde 

intra mare ? 
o cur iubes canere ? 

2. Magis mihi, miserule, 
flere libet, puerule, 

plus plorare quam cantare 
carmen tale, iubes quale, 

amor care. 
o cur iubes canere ? 

3. Mallem scias, pustllule, 
ut velles tu, fratercule, 
pio corde condolere 
milii atque prona mente 

o cur iubes canere ? 

4. Scis, divine tyruncule, 
scis, superne clientule, 
hie diu me exulare, 
multa die sive nocte 

o cur iubes canere ? 

5. Scis captive plebicule 
Israheli cognomine 
praeceptum in Babilone 
decantare extra longe 

fines lude. 
o cur iubes canere ? 

6. Non potuerunt utique, 
nee debuerunt itaque 
carmen dulce coram gente 
aliene nostri terre 

o cur iubes canere ? 

7. Sed quia vis omnimode, 
consodalis egregie. 


canam patri filioque 
simul atque procedente 

ex utroque. 
hoc cano ultronee. 

8. Benedictus es, domine, 
pater, nate, paraclite, 
deus trine, deus une, 

' deus summe, deus pie, 

deus iuste. 
hoc cano spontanee. 

9. Exul ego diuscule 

hoc in mare sum, domine : 
annos nempe duos fere 
nosti fore, sed iam iamque 

hoc rogo htimillime. 

10. Interim cum pusione 

psallam ore, psallam mente, 
psallam voce (psallam corde) 
psallam die, psaUam nocte 

carmen dulce 
tibi, rex piissime." ^ 

Gottschalk (and for this it is hard to love him) was one 
of the initiators of the leonine hexameter, in which a syllable 
in the middle of the line rhymes with the last syllable. 
" Septeno Augustas decimo praeeunte Kalendas " 

is the opening hexameter in his Epistle to his friend 
Ratramnus.^ To what horrid jingle such verses could attain 
may be seen from some leonine hexameter-pentameters of 
two or three hundred years later, on the Fall of Troy, 
beginning : 

" Viribus, arte, minis, Danaum clara Troja ruinis, 
Annis bis quinis fit rogus atque cinis." ^ 

1 Traube, Podae Lat. aevi Car. iii. p. 731. Cf. Ebert, Gesch. etc. ii. 169 and 


2 Poet. Lat. aev. Car. iii. 733. 

^ Du MerU, Palsies populaires latines, i. 400. 

Perhaps the most successful" attempt to write hexameters containing rh5nnes or 
assonances is the twelfth-century poem of Bernard Morlanensis, a monk of Climy, 
beginning with the famous lines : 

" Hora novissima, tempora pessima sunt, vigilemus. 
Ecce minaciter imminet arbiter ille supremus." 
Bernard! Morlanensis, De contemptu mundi, ed. by Thos. Wright, Master of 
the Rolls Series, vol. 59 (ii.), 1872. Bernard says in his Preface, as to his measures : 
" Id genus metri, tum dactylum continuum exceptis finalibus, tum etiam sonori- 
tatem leonicam servans. . . ." 


Hector and Troy, and the dire wiles of the Greeks never 
left the mediaeval imagination. A poem of the early tenth 
century, which bade the watchers on Modena's walls be 
vigilant, draws its inspiration from that unfading memory, 
and for us illustrates what iambics might become when 
accent had replaced quantity. The lines throughout end in 
a final rhyming a. 

" O tu, qui servas armis ista moenia, 
Noli dormire, moneo, sed vigila. 
Dum Hector vigil extitit in Troia, 
Non earn cepit fraudulenta Graecia." ^ 

And from a scarcely later time, for it also is of the tenth 
century, rise those verses to Roma, that old " Roma aurea et 
etema," and forever "caput mundi," sung bypilgrim bands as 
their eyes caught the first gleam of tower, church, and ruin : 

" O Roma nobilis, orbis et domina, 
Cunctarum urbium. excellentissima, 
Roseo martyrum sanguine rubea, 
Albis et virginum liliis Candida : 
Salutem dicimus tibi per omnia, 
Te benedicimus : salve per secula."^ 

This verse, which still lifts the heart of whosoever hears 
or reads it, may close our examples of mediaeval verses 
descended from metrical forms. It will be noticed that 
all of them are from the early mediaeval centuries ; a 
circumstance which may be taken as a suggestion of the 
fact that by far the greater part of the earlier accentual 
Latin poetry was composed in forms in which accent simply 
had displaced the antique quantity. 


We turn to that other genesis of mediaeval Latin verse, 
arising not out of antique forms, but rather from the 
mediaeval need and faculty of song. In the chief instance 
selected for illustration, this line of evolution took its 

1 " Carmina Mutinensia," Poet. Lat. aev. Car. iii. 703. The poem has forty- 
two lines, of which the above are the first four. The usual date assigned is 924, 
but Traube in Pod. aev. Car. has put it back to 892. 

^ See further text and discussion in Traube, " O Roma nobilis," Abhand. 
Bairish. Akad. Philos., philol. Klasse, 1891. 


inception in the exigencies and inspiration of the Alleluia 
chant or jubilation. During the celebration of the Mass, as 
the Gradual ended in its last Alleluia, the choir continued 
chanting the final syllable of that word in cadences of musical 
exultings. The melody or cadence to which this final a of 
the Alleluia was chanted, was called the sequentia. The 
words which came to be substituted for its cadenced reitera- 
tion were called the prosa. By the twelfth century the two 
terms seem to have been used interchangeably. Thus arose 
the prose Sequence, so plastic in its capability of being 
moulded by melody to verse. Its songful qualities lay in 
the sonorousness of the words and in their syllabic corre- 
spondence with the notes of the melody to which they were 

In the year 860, Norsemen sacked the cloister of 
Jumieges in Normandy, and a fleeing brother carried his 
precious Antiphonary far away to the safe retreat of St. Gall. 
There a young monk named Notker,^ poring over its 
contents, perceived that words had been written in the place 
of the repetitions of the final a of the Alleluia. Taking the 
cue, he set to work to compose more fitting words to 
correspond with the notes to which this final a was sung. 
So these lines of euphonious and fitting words appear to 
have had their beginning in Notker's scanning of that 
fugitive Antiphonary, and his devising labour. Their primary 
purpose was a musical one ; for they were a device — 
mnemotechnic, if one will — to facilitate the chanting of 
cadences previously vocalized with difficulty through the 
singing of one simple vowel sound. Notker showed his 
work to his master, Iso, who rejoiced at what his gifted 
pupil had accomplished, and spurred him on by pointing 
out that in his composition one syllable was stiU sometimes 
repeated or drawn out through several successive notes. 
One syllable to each note was the principle which Notker 
now set himself to realize ; and he succeeded. 

^ The verbal Sequence or prosa was thus a species of trope. Tropes were 
interpolations or additions to the older text of the Liturgy. The Sequences were 
the tropes appended to the last Alleluia of the Gradual, the psalm chanted in 
the celebration of the Mass, between the reading of the Epistle and the Gospel. 
Cf. Leon Gautier, Poesie liturgique au moyen age, chap. iii. (Paris, 1886) ; ibid. 
(Euvres poctiques d'Adam de Saint Victor, p. 281 sqq. (3rd ed., Paris, 1894). 

2 On Notker see Manitius, Ges. der lat. Lit. des Mittelalters, i. pp. 354-367. 


He composed some fifty Sequences. In his work, as 
well as in that of others after him, the device of words 
began to modify and develop the melodies themselves. 
Sometimes Notker adapted his verbal compositions to those 
cadences or melodies to which the Alleluia had long been 
sung ; sometimes he composed both melody and words ; or, 
again, he took a current melody, sacred or secular, to which 
the Alleluia never had been sung, and composed words for 
it, to be chanted as a Sequence. In these borrowed melodies, 
as well as in those composed by Notker, the musical periods 
were more developed than in the Alleluia cadences. Thus 
the musical growth of the Sequences was promoted by 
the use of sonorous words, while the improved melodies 
in turn drew the words on to a more perfect rh5rthmic 

Notker died in 912. His Sequences were prose, yet 
with a certain parallelism in their construction ; and, even 
with Notker in his later years, the words began to take on 
assonances, chiefly in the vowel sound of a. Thereafter the 
melodies, seizing upon the words, as it were, by the principle 
of their syllabic correspondence to the notation, moulded 
them to rhythm of movement and regularity of line ; 
while conversely with the better ordering of the words for 
singing, the melodies in turn made gain and progress, 
and then again reacted on the words, until after two 
centuries there emerged the finished verses of an Adam of 
St. Victor. 

Thus these Sequences have become verse before our 
eyes, and we realize that it is the very central current of 
the evolution of mediaeval Latin poetry that we have been 
following. How free and how spontaneous was this 
evolution of the Sequence. It was the child of the Christian 
Middle Ages, seeing the light in the closing years of the 
ninth century, but requiring a long period of growth before it 
reached the glory of its climacteric. It was bom of musical 
chanting, and it grew as song, never unsung or conceived of 
as severable from its melody. Only as it attained its 
perfected strophic forms, it necessarily made use of trochaic 
and other rhythms which long before had changed from 
quantity to accent and so had passed on into the verse- 


making habitudes of the Middle Ages.^ If there be any 
Latin composition in virtue of origin and growth absolutely 
un-antique, it is the mediaeval Sequence, which in its final 
forms is so glorious a representative of the mediaeval Hymn. 
And we shall also see that much popular Latin poetry, 
" Carmina Burana " and student-songs, were composed in 
verses and often sung to tunes taken — or parodied — from 
the Sequence-hymns of the Liturgy. 

There were many ways of chanting Sequences. The 
musical phrases of the melodies usually were repeated once, 
except at the beginning and the close ; and the Sequence 
would be rendered by a double choir singing antiphonally. 
Ordinarily the words responded to the repetition of the 
musical phrases with a parallelism of their own. The lines 
(after the first) varied in length by pairs, the second and 
third lines having the same number of syllables, the fourth 
and fifth likewise equal to each other, but differing in 
length from the second and third ; and so on through the 
Sequence, until the last line, which commonly stood alone 
and differed in length from the preceding pairs. The 
Sequence called " Nostra tuba "is a good example. Probably 
it was composed by Notker, and in his later years ; for it is 
filled with assonances, and exhibits a regular parallelism of 

" Nostra tuba 
Regatur fortissime Dei dextra et preces audiat 
Aura placatissima et serena ; ita enim nostra 
Laus erit accepta, voce si quod canimus, canat pariter et pura con- 

Et, ut haec possimus, omnes divina nobis semper flagitemus adesse 


^ On the Sequence see Leon Gautier, Poisie liturgique au moyen S,ge (Paris, 
1886), passim, and especially the comprehensive summary in the notes from p. 154 
to p. 159. Also see Schubiger, Die Sdngerschule St. Gallus (1858), in which many 
of Notker' s Sequences are given with the music ; also v. Winterfeld, " Die Dichter- 
schule St. Gallus und Reichenau," Neue Jahrbiicher f. d. klassisch. Altertum, 
Bd. V. (1900), p. 341 sqq. 

The present writer has foxmd WUhelm Meyer's Fragmenta Burana (Berlin, 
1901) most suggestive ; and in all matters pertaining to mediaeval Latin verse- 
forms, use has been made of the same writer's exhaustive study : " Ludus de 
Antichristo und iiber lat. Rythmen," Sitzungsber. Bairisch. Akad. Philos., philol. 
Klasse, 1882. See also Ch. Thurot, " Notices, etc., de divers MSS. latins pour 
servir a I'histoire des doctrines grammaticales au moyen age," in vol. xxii. (2) of 
Notices et extraits des MSS. pp. 417-457. 


O bone Rex, pie, juste, misericors, qui es via et janua, 
Portas regni, quaesumus, nobis reseres, dimittasque facinora 

Ut laudemus nomen nunc tuum atque per cuncta saecula." ^ 

Here, after the opening, the first pair has seventeen 
syllables, and the next pair twenty-six. The last pair 
quoted has twenty ; and the final line of seventeen syllables 
has no fellow. A further rhythmical advance seems reached 
by the following Sequence from the abbey of St. Martial at 
Limoges. It may have been written in the eleventh century. 
It is .given here with the first and second line of the couplets 
opposite to each other, as strophe and antistrophe ; and the 
lines themselves are divided to show the assonances (or 
rhymes) which appear to have corresponded with pauses in 
the melody : 

" (i) Canat omnis turba 

{2a) Fonte renata 

(2fc) Laude jucunda 

Spiritusque gratia 

et mente perspicua 

(3a) Jam restituta 

(3&) Sicque jactura 

pars est decima 

coelestis ilia 

fuerat quae culpa 

completur in laude 



(4ffl) Ecce praeclara 

(4&) Enitet ampla 

dies dominica 

per orbis spatia. 

(5fl) Exsultat in qua 

(5&) Quia destructa 

plebs omnis redempta, 

mors est perpetua." ^ 

A Sequence of the eleventh century will afford a final 
illustration of approach to a regular strophic structure, and 
of the use of the final one-syllable rhyme in a, throughout 
the Sequence : 

^ " May our trumpet be guided mightily by God's right hand, and may the 
calm and tranquil air hear our prayers ! for our praise will be accepted if what 
we sing with the voice a pure conscience sings likewise. And that we may be 
able, let us all beseech divine aid to be always present with us. ... O good King, 
kind, just, and pitying, who art the way and the door, unlock the gates of the 
kingdom for us, we beg, and pardon our offences, that we may praise thy name 
now and through all the ages." 

* G. M. Dreves, " Die Prosen der Abtei St. Martial zu Limoges," p. 59 (vol. 
vii. of Dreves's Analecta hymnica medii aevi ; Leipzig, 1889). " Let every band 
sing with fount renewed and the Spirit's grace with joyful praise and clear mind. 
Now is made good the tenth part [i.e. the fallen angels], undone by fault ; and 
thus that celestial fall is made good in divine praise. Lo ! the bright day of the 
Lord gleams through the broad spaces of the world : in which all the redeemed 
people exult because everlasting death is destroyed." 


" Alleluia, 
Tunna, proclama leta ; 

Laude canora, 
Facta prome divina. 

Jam instituta 
Superna disciplina. 

Christi sacra 

Per magnalia 
Es quia de morte liberata 

Ut destructa 

Inferni claustra 
Januaque celi patefacta ! 

Jam nunc omnia 
Virtute gubernat eterna. 
In quibus sua 
Semper equa 
Dat auctoritate paterna." 


As the eleventh century closed and the great twelfth 
century dawned, the forces of mediaeval growth quickened 
to a mightier vitality, and distinctively mediaeval creations 
appeared. Our eyes, of course, are fixed upon the northern 
lands, where the Sequence grew from prose to verse, and 
where derivative or analogous forms of popular poetry 
developed also. Up to this time, throughout mediaeval 
life and thought, progress had been somewhat uncrowned 
with palpable achievement. Yet the first brilliant creations 
of a master-workman are the fruit of his apprentice years, 
during which his progress has been as real as when his 
works begin to make it visible. So it was no sudden birth 

1 Published by Boucherie, " Melanges Latins, etc.," Revue des langues romanes, 
t. vii. (1875), p. 35. 

" Alleluia ! O flock, proclaim joy ; with melodious praise utter deeds divine 
now fixed by heavenly teaching. Because thou art freed from death through the 
holy works of Christ, how are the gates of hell destroyed and heaven's doors 
opened. Now He rules all things celestial and terrestrial by eternal power ; 
wherein by the Father's authority He gives judgments always just." 


of power, but rather faculties ripening through apprentice 
centuries, that illumined the period opening about the year 
1 100. This period would carry no human teaching if 
its accomplishment in institutions, in philosophy, in art 
and poetry, had been a heaven-blown accident, and not the 
fruit of antecedent discipline. 

The poetic advance represented by the Sequences of 
Adam of St. Victor may rouse our admiration for the poet's 
genius, but should not blind our eyes to the continuity of 
development leading to it. Adam is the final artist and his 
work a veritable creation ; yet his antecedents made part of 
his creative faculty. The elements of his verses and the 
general idea and form of the sequence were given him ; — all 
honour to the man's holy genius which made these into 
poems. The elements referred to consisted in accentual 
measures and in the two -syllabled Latin rhyme which 
appears to have been finally achieved by the close of the 
eleventh century. ^ In using them Adam was no borrower, 
but an artist who perforce worked in the medium of his art. 
Trochaic and iambic rhythms then constituted the chief 
measures for accentual verse, as they had for centuries, and 
do stiU. For, although accentual rhythms admit dactyls 
and anapaests, these have not proved generally serviceable. 
Likewise the inevitable progress of Latin verse had developed 
assonances into rhymes ; and indeed into rhymes of two 
syllables, for Latin words lend themselves as readily to 
rhymes of two syllables as English words to rhymes of one. 

There existed also the idea and form of the Sequence, 
consisting of pairs of lines which had reached assonance and 
some degree of rhythm, and varied in length, pair by pair, 
following the music of the melodies to which they were 
sung. For the Sequence-melody did not keep to the same 
recurring tune throughout, but varied from couplet to 
couplet. In consequence, a Sequence by Adam of St. 
Victor may contain a variety of verse-forms. Moreover, a 
number of the Sequences of which he may have been the 
author show survivals of the old rh5rthmical irregularities, 
and of assonance as yet unsuperseded by pure rhyme. 

^ See Gautier, Poesie liturgique, p. 147 sqq. It came somewhat earlier in 
Italy. See Ronca, Cultura medioevale, etc., p. 348 sqq. (Rome, 1892). 


Before giving examples of Adam's poems, a tribute 
should be paid to his great forerunner in the art of Latin 
verse. Adam doubtless was familiar with the hymns ^ of 
the most brilliant intellectual luminary of the departing 
generation, one Peter Abaelard, whom he may have seen 
in the flesh. Those once famous love-songs written for 
Heloise, perished (so far as we know) with the love they 
sang. Another fate — and perhaps Abaelard wished it so — 
was in store for the many hymns which he wrote for his 
sisters in Christ, the abbess and her nuns. They still exist,^ 
and display a richness of verse-forms scarcely equalled even 
by the Sequences of Adam. In the development of Latin 
verse, Abaelard is Adam's immediate predecessor ; his verses 
being, as it were, just one stage inferior to Adam's in 
sonorousness of line, in certainty of rhythm, and in purity of 

The " prose " Sequences were not the direct antecedents 
of Abaelard's hymns. Yet both sprang from the freely 
devising spirit of melody and song ; and therefore those 
hymns are of this free-born lineage more truly than they are 
descendants of antique forms. To be sure, every possible 
accentual rhythm, built as it must be of trochees, iambics, 
anapaests, or dactyls, has unavoidably some antique 
quantitative antecedent ; because the antique measures 
exhausted the possibilities of syllabic combination. Yet 
antecedence is not source, and most of Abaelard's verses by 
their form and spirit proclaim their genesis in the creative 
exigencies of song as loudly as they disavow any antique 

For example, there may be some far echo of metrical 
dactyls in the following accentual and rhyme-harnessed 
twelve-syllable verse : 

" Advenit Veritas, umbra praeteriit, 
Post noctera claritas diei subiit, 

1 While Sequences may be called hymns, all hymns are not Sequences. For 
the hymn is the general term designating a verbal composition sung in praise 
of God or His saints. A Sequence then would be a hymn having a peculiar 
history and a certain place in the Liturgy. 

* Contained in Migne 178, col. 1771 sqq. They have not been properly edited 
or even fully published. 


Ad ortum rutilant supemi luminis 
Legis mysteria plena caliginis." 

But the echo if audible is faint, and surely no antique whisper 
is heard in 

" Est in Rama 
Vox audita 
Rachel flentis 
Super natos 

Nor in 

" Golias prostratus est, 
Resurrexit Dominus, 
Ense jugulatus est 

Hostis proprio ; 
Cum suis submersus est 

lUe Pharao." 

The variety of Abaelard's verse seems endless. One or 
two further examples may or may not suggest any ante- 
cedents in those older forms of accentual verse which 
followed the former metres : 

" Ornarunt terram germina, 
Nunc caelum luminaria. 
Sole, luna, stellis depingitur. 
Quorum multus usus cognoscitur." 

In this verse the first two lines are accentual iambic 
dimeters ; while the last two begin each with two trochees, 
and close apparently with two dactyls. The last form of 
line is kept throughout in the following : 

" Gaude virgo virginum gloria, 
Matrum decus et mater, jubila. 
Quae commune sanctorum omnium 
Meruisti conferre gaudium." 

Next come some simple five-syllable lines, with a catch- 
ing rhyme : 

" Lignum amaras 
Indulcat aquas 
Eis immissum. 
Omnes agones 
Sunt Sanctis dulces 
Per crucifixum." 


In the following lines of ten syllables a dactyl appears 
to follow a trochee twice in each line : 

" Tuba Domini, Paule, maxima, 
De caelestibus dans tonitrua, 
Hostes dissipans, cives aggrega. 

^ Doctor gentium es praecipuus, 

Vas in poculum factus omnibus, 
Sapientiae plenum haustibus." 

These examples of Abaelard's rhythms may close with 
the following curiously complicated verse : 

" Tu quae carnem edomet 

Tu quae carnem decoret 

Tu velle quod bonum est his ingeris 
Ac ipsum perficere tu tribuis. 


Sunt his tua 
Per quos mira peragis, 

Et humana 

Moves corda 
Signis et prodigiis. " 

In general, one observes in these verses that Abaelard 
does not use a pure two-syllable rhyme. The rhyme is 
always pure in the last syllable, and in the penult may 
either exist as a pure rhyme or simply as an assonance, or 
not at all.^ 

Probably Abaelard wrote his hymns in 1130, perhaps 
the very year when Adam as a youth entered the convent 
of St. Victor, lying across the Seine from Paris. The latter 
appears to have lived until 11 92. Many Sequences have 
been improperly ascribed to him, and among the doubtful ones 
are a number having affinities with the older types. These 
may be anterior to Adam ; for the greater part of his 
unquestionable Sequences are perfected throughout in their 
versification. Yet, on the other hand, one would expect 
some progression in works composed in the course of a long 

^ Reference should also be made to the six laments (planctus) composed 
by Abaelard (Migne 178, col. 1817-1823). They are powerful elegies, and exhibit 
a richness and variety of poetic measures. It may be mentioned that the pure 
two-syllable rhyme is found in hymns ascribed to Saint Bernard. 


life devoted to such composition — a life covering a period 
when progressive changes were taking place in the world of 
thought beyond St. Victor's walls. We take three examples 
of these Sequences. The first contains occasional assonance 
in place of rhyme, and uses many rhymes of one syllable. 
It appears to be an older composition improperly ascribed 
to Adam. The second is unquestionably his, in his most 
perfect form ; the third may or may not be Adam's ; but is 
given for its own sake as a lovely 13010.^ 

The first example, probably written not much later than 
the year iioo, was designed for the Mass at the dedication 
of a church. The variety in the succession of couplets and 
strophes indicates a corresponding variation in the melody. 

Clara chorus dulce pangat voce nunc alleluia. 
Ad aeterni regis laudem qui gubemat omnia ! 


Cui nos universalis sociat Ecclesia, 

Scala nitens et pertingens ad poli fastigia ; 


Ad honorem cujus laeta psallamus melodia, 
Persolventes hodiernas laudes illi debitas. 


O felix aula, quam vicissim 
Confrequentant agmina coelica, 

Divinis verbis altematim 
Jungentia mellea cantica ! 

Domus haec, de qua vetusta sonuit historia 
Et moderna protestatur Christum fari pagina 
' Quoniam elegi earn thronum sine macula, 
' Requies haec erit mea per aeterna saecula. 

Turris supra montem sita, 
Indissolubili bitumine fundata 
Vallo perenni munita, 
Atque aurea co'umna 

1 Leon Gautier, the editor of the (Euvres poitiques d'Adam de Saint-Victor, 
in his third edition of 1894, has thrown out from among Adam's poems our first 
and third examples. On Adam see ante, Chapter XXX., ir. 


Miris ac variis lapidibus distincta, 
Stylo subtili polita 1 

Ave, mater praeelecta, 
Ad quam Christus fatur ita 
Prophetae facundia : 
V ' Sponsa mea speciosa, 

' Inter filias formosa, 
' Supra solem splendida ! 


' Caput tuum ut Carmelus 
' Et ipsius comae tinctae regis uti purpura ; 

' Oculi ut columbarum, 
' Genae tuae punicorum ceu malorum fragmina ! 


' Mel et lac sub lingua tua, favus stillans labia ; 
' Collum tuum ut columna, turris et eburnea !' 

Ergo nobis Sponsae tuae 
Famulantibus, o Chris te, pietate solita 

Clemens adesse dignare 
Et in tuo salutari nos ubique visita. 


Ipsaque mediatrice, summe rex, perpetue. 

Voce pura 
Flagitamus, da gaudere Paradisi gloria. 

AUeluia ! " i 

The second example is Adam's famous Sequence for ' 
St. Stephen's Day, which faUs on the day after Christmas. 
It is throughout sustained and perfect in versification, and 
in substance a splendid hymn of praise. 

" Heri mundus exultavit 
Et exultans celebravit 
Christi natalitia ; 
Heri chorus angelorum 
Prosecutus est coelorum 
Regem cum laetitia. 

Gautier, CEuvres poetiques d'A^dffP 4f Saint-Vigtor, i. 174. 


Protomartyr et levita, 
Clarus fide, clarus vita, 

Clarus et miraculis, 
Sub hac luce triumphavit 
Et triumphans insultavit 

Stephanus incredulis. 


Fremunt ergo tanquam ferae 
Quia victi defecere 
Lucis adversarii : 
Falsos testes statuunt 
Et linguas exacuunt 
Viperarum filii. 

Agonista, nuUi cede, 
Certa certus de mercede, 
Persevera, Stephane ; 
Insta falsis testibus, 
Confuta sermonibus 
Synagogam Satanae. 


Testis tuus est in coelis. 
Testis verax et fidelis. 

Testis innocentiae. 
Nomen habes coronati : 
Te tormenta decet pati 

Pro corona gloriae. 


Pro corona non marcenti 
Perfer brevis vim tormenti ; 

Te manet victoria. 
Tibi fiet mors natalis, 
Tibi poena terminalis 

Dat vitae primordia. 


Plenus Sancto Spiritu, 
Penetrat intuitu 
Stephanus coelestia. 
Videns Dei gloriam, 
Crescit ad victoriam, 
Suspirat ad praemia. 



En a dextris Dei stantem, 
Jesum pro te dimicantem, 
Stephane, considera : 
Tibi coelos reserari, 
Tibi Christum revelari, 
, Clama voce libera. 

Se commendat Salvatori, 
Pro quo dulce ducit mori 
Sub ipsis lapidibus. 
Saulus servat omnium 
Vestes lapidantium, 
Lapidans in omnibus. 

Ne peccatum statuatur 

His a quibus lapidatur. 

Genu ponit, et precatur, 

Condolens insaniae. 

In Christo sic obdormivit, 

Qui Christo sic obedivit, 

Et cum Christo semper vivit. 

Martyr um primitiae." 

The last example, in honour of St. Nicholas's Day, is a 
lovely poem by whomsoever written. Its verses are extremely 
diversified. It begins with somewhat formal chanting of the 
saint's virtues, in dignified couplets. Suddenly it changes to 
a joyful lyric, and sings of a certain sweet sea-miracle wrought 
by Nicholas. Then it spiritualizes the conception of his 
saintly aid to meet the call of the sin-tossed soul. It closes 
in stately manner in harmony with its liturgical function. 

" Congaudentes exultemus vocali concordia 
Ad beati Nicolai festiva solemnia ! 

Qui in cunis adhuc jacens servando jejunia 
A papilla coepit summa promereri gaudia. 

Adolescens amplexatur litterarum studia, 
Alienus et immunis ab omni lascivia. 

^ Gautier, o.c. 3rd edition, p. 87. 


Felix confessor, cujus fuit dignitatis vox de coelo nuntia ! 
Per quam provectus, praesulatus sublimatur ad summa fastigia. 


Erat in ejus animo pietas eximia, 

Et oppressis impendebat multa beneficia. 

Auro per eum virginum toUitur infamia, 
Atque patris earumdem levatur inopia. 


Quidam nautae navigantes, 
Et contra fluctuum saevitiam luctantes, 

Navi pane dissoluta, 

Jam de vita desperantes. 
In tanto positi periculo, claraantes 

Voce dicunt omnes una : 

' O beate Nicolae, 

Nos ad maris portum trahe 

De mortis angustia. 
Trahe nos ad portum maris, 
Tu qui tot auxiliaris, 

Pietatis gratia.' 

Dum clamarent, nee incassum, 
' Ecce ' quidam dicens, ' assum 

Ad vestra praesidia.' 
Statim aura datur grata 
Et tempestas fit sedata : 

Quieverunt maria. 


Nos, qui sumus in hoc mundo, 
Vitiorum in profundo 

Jam passi naufragia, 
Gloriose Nicolae 
Ad salutis portum trahe, 

Ubi pax et gloria. 

lUam nobis unctionem 
Impetres ad Dominum, 
Prece pia, 


Qua sanavit laesionem 
Multorum peccaminum 
In Maria. 

Hujus festum celebrantes gaudeant per saecula, 
Et coronet eos Christus post vitae curricula 1 " ^ 

The foregoing examples of religious poetry may be 
supplemented by illustrations of the parallel evolution of 
more profane if not more popular verse. Any priority in 
time, as between the two, should lie with the former ; though 
it may be the truer view to find a general synchronism in 
the secular and religious phases of lyric growth. But 
priority of originality and creativeness certainly belongs to 
that line of lyric evolution which sprang from religious 
sentiments and emotions. For the vagrant clerkly poet of 
the Court, the roadside, and the inn, used the forms of verse 
fashioned by the religious muse in the cloister and the school. 
Thus the development of secular Latin verse presents a 
derivative parallel to the essentially primary evolution of the 
Sequence or the hymn. 

It was in Germany that the composition of Sequences 
was most zealously cultivated during the century following 
Notker's death ; and it was in Germany that the Sequence, 
in its earlier forms, exerted most palpable influence upon 
popular songs. ^ In these so-caUed Modi {Modus = song), as 
in the Sequence, rh5rthmical compositions may be seen 
progressing in the direction of regular rhythm, rhyme, and 
strophic form. As in the Sequences, the tune moulded the 
words, which in turn influenced the melody. The following 

1 Gautier, o.c. ist edition, i. 201. 

^ Did the Sequence exert an influence upon Hrotsvitha, the tiresome but 
unquestionably immortal nun of Gandersheim, who floiirished in the middle and 
latter part of the tenth century ? She wrote narrative poems, like the Gesta 
Ottonis (Otto I.) in leonine hexameters. Her pentameter lines also conunonly 
have a word in the middle rhy min g with the last syllable of the line. But it is 
in those famous pious plays of hers, formed after the models of Terence, that we 
may look for a kind of writing corresponding to that which was to progress to 
clearer form in the Sequence. Without discussing to what extent the Latin of 
these plays may be called rhythmical, one or two things are clear. It is filled 
with assonances and rude rhymes, usually of one syllable. It has no clear verse- 
structure, and the utterances of the dramatis personae apparently observe no 
regularity in the number of syllables, such as lines of verse require. Cf. her 
Opera ed. Winterfeld, Scriptores Rerum Germanicorum (Berlin, 1902) ; also 
Manitius, Ges. der lat. Lit. des Mittelalters, i. pp. 619-632. 


is from the Modus Ottinc, a popular song composed about 
the year 1000 in honour of a victory of Otto III. over the 
Hungarians : 

" His incensi bella fremunt, anna poscunt, hostes vocant, signa 
secuntur, tubis canunt. 
Clamor passim oritur et milibus centum Theutones inmiscentur. 

Pauci cedunt, plures cadunt, Francus instat, Parthus fugit ; vulgus 

exangue undis obstat ; 
Licus rubens sanguine Danubio cladem Parthicam ostendebat." 

Another example is the Modus fiorum of approximately 
the same period, a song about a king who promised his 
daughter to whoever could tell such a lie as to force the 
king to call him a liar. It opens as follows : 

" Mendosam quam cantilenam ago, 
puerulis commendatam dabo, 
quo modules per mendaces risum 
auditoribus ingentem ferant. 

Liberalis et decora 
cuidam regi erat nata 
quam sub lege hujusmodi 
procis opponit quaerendam." 

Here the rhyme still is rude and the rhythm irregular. 
The following dirge, written thirty or forty years later on 
the death of the German emperor, Henry II., shows 
improvement : 

" Lamentemur nostra, Socii, peccata, 
lamentemur et ploremus ! Quare tacemus ? 

Pro iniquitate corruimus late ; 
scimus coeli hinc ofEensum regem immensum. 
Heinrico requiem, rex Christe, dona perennem." ^ 

We may pass on into the twelfth century, still following 
the traces of that development of popular verse which 
paralleled the evolution of the Sequence. We first note 

'^ For these and other songs, written after the maimer of Sequences, see Du 
Meril, Poesies pop. lot. i. p. 273 sqq. They are also printed by Piper ia Nachtrdge 
zur dlteren deutschen Lit. (Deutsche Nat. Lit.) p. 206 sqq. and p. 234 sqq. See also 
W. Meyer, Fragmenta Bur ana, p. 174 sqq. and Ebert, AUgemeine Gesch, etc. ii. 
343 sqq. 

^ Du Meril, ihid. i. p. 285. 


some catchy rhymes of a German student setting out for 
Paris in quest of learning and intellectual novelty : 

" Hospita in Gallia nunc me vocant studia. 
Vadam ergo ; Sens a tergo socios relinquo. 
Plangite discipuli, lugubris discidii tempore propinquo. 
Vale, dulcis patria, suavis Suevorum Suevia ! 
' Salve dilecta Francia, philosophorum curia I 

Suscipe discipulum in te peregrinum, 
Quem post dierum circulum remittes Socratinum," ^ 

This Suabian, singing his uncouth Latin rhymes, and 
footing his way to Paris, suggests the common, delocalized 
influences which were developing a mass of student-songs, 
" Carmina Burana," or " Goliardic " poetry. The authors 
belonged to that large and broad class of clerks made up of 
any and all persons who knew Latin. The songs circulated 
through western Europe, and their home was ever5rwhere, if 
not their origin. Some of them betray, as more of them do 
not, the author's land and race. Frequently of diabolic 
cleverness, gibing, amorous, convivial, they show the 
virtuosity in rhyme of their many makers. Like the hymns 
and later Sequences, they employed of necessity those 
accentual measures which once had their quantitative proto- 
types in antique metres. But, again like the hymns and 
Sequences, they neither imitate nor borrow, but make use of 
trochaic, iambic, or other rhythms as the natural and im- 
avoidable material of verse. Their strophes are new 
strophes, and not imitations of anything in quantitative 
poetry. So these songs were free-born, and their develop- 
ment was as independent of antique influence as the melodies 
which ever moulded them to more perfect music. Many and 
divers were their measures. But as that great strophe of 
Adam's Heri mundus exultavit (the strophe of the Stabat 
Mater) was of mightiest dominance among the hymns, so 
for these student-songs there was also one measure that was 
chief. This was the thirteen-syllable trochaic line, with its 
lilting change of stress after the seventh syllable, and its pure 
two-syllable rhyme. It is the line of the Confessio poetae, or 
Confessio Goliae, where nests that one mediaeval Latin verse 
which everybody stUl knows by heart : 

1 Wil. Meyer, Fragmenta Burana, p. i8o. 


" Meum est propositum in taberna mori, 
Vinum sit appositum morientis ori. 
Tunc cantabunt laetius angelorum chori, 
' Sit Deus propitius huic potatori.' " 

It is also the line of the quite charming Phyllis and 
Flora of the Carmina Burana : 

" Erant ambae virgines et ambae reginae, 
Phyllis coma libera, Flora compto crine : 
Non sunt formae virginum, sed formae divinae, 
Et respondent facie luci matutinae." ^ 

Another common measure is the twelve-syllable dactylic 
line of the famous Apocalypsis Goliae Episcopi : 

" Ipsam Pythagorae formam aspicio, 
Inscriptam artium schemate vario. 
An extra corpus sit haec revelatio, 
Utrum in corpora, Deus scit, nescio. 
In fronte micuit ars astrologica ; 
Dentium seriem regit grammatica ; 
In lingua pulcrius vernat rhetorica, 
Concussis aestuat in labiis logica." 

An example of the not infrequent eight-syllable line is 
afforded by that tremendous satire against papal Rome, 
beginning : 

" Propter Sion non tacebo, 
Sed ruinam Romae fiebo, 
Quousque justitia 
Rursus nobis oriatur, 
Et ut lampas accendatur 
Justus in ecclesia." 

Here the last line of the verse has but seven syllables* 
as is the case in the following verse of four lines : 

" Vinum bonum et suave, 
Bonis bonum, pravis prave, 
Cunctis dulcis sapor, ave, 

Mundana laetitia ! 

But the eight-syllable lines may be kept throughout, as 
in the following lament over life's lovely, pernicious charm, 
so touching in its expression of the mortal heartbreak of 
mediaeval monasticism : 

1 The best text of the " Phillidis et Florae altercatio " is Haureau's in Notices 
et extraits, 32 (i), p. 259 sqq. The same article has some other disputes or causae, 
e.g. causa pauperis scholaris cum presbytero, p. 289. 


" Heu ! Heu ! mundi vita, 
Quare me delectas ita ? 
Cum non possis mecum stare. 
Quid me cogis te amare ? 

Vita mundi, res morbosa, 
Magis fragilis quam rosa, 
V Cum sis tota laciymosa. 

Cur es mihi graciosa ? " ^ 


Our consideration of the different styles of mediaeval 
Latin prose and the many novel forms of mediaeval Latin 
verse has shown how radical was the departure of the one 
and the other from Cicero and Virgil. Through such 
changes Latin continued to prove itself a living language. 
Yet its vitality was doomed to wane before the rivalry of 
the vernacular tongues. The vivida vis, the capability of 
growth, had well-nigh passed from Latin when Petrarch 
was born. In endeavouring to maintain its supremacy as a 
literary vehicle he was to hold a losing brief, nor did he 
strengthen his cause by attempting to resuscitate a classic 
style of prose and metre. The victory of the vernacular 
was announced in Dante's De vulgari eloquentia and 
demonstrated beyond dispute in his Divina Commedia. 

A long and for the most part peaceful and unconscious 
conflict had led up to the victory of what might have been 
deemed the baser side. For Latin was the sole mediaeval 
literature that was bom in the purple, with its stately lineage 
of the patristic and the classical back of it. Latin was 
the language of the Roman world and the vehicle of Latin 
Christianity. It was the language of the Church and its 
clergy, and the language of all educated people. Naturally 

'^ Du Meril, Poesies pop. lat. ii. p. io8 sqq. The piece is a cento, and its tone 
changes and becomes brutal further on. The poems, from which are taken the 
preceding citations, are to be found in Wright's Latin Poems commonly attributed 
to Walter Mapes (London, 1841, Camden Society) ; Carmina Burana, ed. J. A. 
Schmeller ; " Gedichte auf K. Friedrich I. (archipoeta)," in vol. iii. of Grimm's 
Kleinere Schriften. Cf. also Hubatsch, Die lateinischen Vagantenlieder (Gorlitz, 
1870). The best texts of many of these and other " Carmina Burana," and such 
like poems, are to be found in the contributions of Haureau to the Notices et 
extraits, etc. ; especially in tome 29 (2), pp. 231-368 ; tome 31 (i), p. 51 sqq. 


the entire contents of existing and progressive Christian and 
antique culture were contained in the mediaeval Latin 
literature, the literature of religion and of law and govern- 
ment, of education and of all serious knowledge. It was to 
be the primary literature of mediaeval thought ; from which 
passed over the chief part of whatever thought and 
knowledge the vernacular literatures were to receive. For 
scholars who follow, as we have tried to, the intellectual and 
the deeper emotional life of the Middle Ages, the Latin 
literature yields the incomparably greater part of the 
material of our study. It has been our home country, from 
which we have made casual excursions into the vernacular 

These existed, however, from the earliest mediaeval 
periods, beginning, if one may say so, in oral rather than 
written documents. We read that Charlemagne caused a 
book to be made of Germanic poems, which till then 
presumably had been carried in men's memories. The 
Hildehrandslied is supposed to have been one of them.^ In 
the Norse lands, the Eddas and the matter of the Sagas 
were repeated from generation to generation, long before 
they were written down. The habit, if not the art, of 
writing came with Christianity and the Latin education 
accompanying it. Gradually a written literature in the 
Teutonic languages was accumulated. Of this there was 
the heathen side, well represented in Anglo-Saxon and the 
Norse ; while in Old High German the Hildehrandslied 
remains, heathen and savage. Thereafter, a popular and 
even national or rather racial poetry continued, developed, 
and grew large, notwithstanding the spread of Latin 
Christianity through Teutonic lands. Of this the 
Niehelungenlied and the Gudrun are great examples. But 
individual and still famous poets, who felt and thought as 
Germans, were also composing sturdily in their vernacular 
— a lack of education possibly causing them to dictate 
{dictieren, dichten) rather than to write. Of these the 
greatest were Wolfram von Eschenbach and Walther von 
der Vogelweide. With them and after them, or following 
upon the Niehelungenlied, came a mass of secular poetry, 

1 Ante, Vol. I., p. 145. 


some of which was popular and national, reflecting Germanic 
story, while some of it was courtly, transcribing the courtly 
poetry which by the twelfth century flourished in Old 

Thus bourgeoned the secular branches of German 
literature. On the other hand, from the time of Christianity's 
introduction, the Germans felt the need to have the new 
religion presented to them in their own tongues. The 
labour of translation begins with Ulfilas, and is continued 
with conscientious renderings of Scripture and Latin 
educational treatises, and also with such epic paraphrase 
as the Heliand and the more elegiac poems of the Anglo- 
Saxon Cjmewulf.^ Also, at least in Germany, there comes 
into existence a full religious literature, not stoled or mitred, 
but popular, non-academic, and non-liturgical ; of which 
quantities remain in the Middle High German of the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. ^ 

Obviously the Romance vernacular literatures had a 
different commencement. The languages were Latin, 
simply Latin, in their inception, and never ceased to be 
legitimate continuations and developments of the popular 
or Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire. But as the speech 
of children, women, and unlettered people, they were not 
thought of as literary media. All who could write under- 
stood perfectly the better Latin from which these popular 
dialects were slowly differentiating themselves. And as 
they progressed to languages, still their life and progress 
lay among peoples whose ancestral tongue was the proper 
Latin, which all educated men and women still understood, 
and used in the serious business of life. 

But, sooner or later, men will talk and sing and think 
and compose in the speech which is closest to them. The 
Romance tongues became literary through this human need 
of natural expression. There always had been songs in the 
old Vulgar Latin ; and such did not cease as it gradually 
became what one may call Romance. Moreover, the clergy 
might be impelled to use the popular speech in preaching to 

^ Ante, Chapter IX., ii. and iii. 

^ For generous samples of it, see GeistUche Lit. des Mittelalters, ed. P. Piper 
(Deutsche National Literatur). 


the laity, or some unlearned person might compose religious 
verses. Almost the oldest monument of Old French is 
the hymn in honour of Ste. Eulalie. Then as civilization 
advanced from the tenth to the twelfth century, in southern 
and northern France for example, and the langue d'oc and 
the langue d'oil became independent and developed languages, 
unlearned men, or men with unlearned audiences, would 
unavoidably set themselves to composing poetry in these 
tongues. In the North the chansons de geste came into 
existence ; in the South the knightly Troubadours made 
love-lyrics. Somehow, these poems were written down, and 
there was literature for men's eyes as well as for men's ears. 

In the twelfth century and the thirteenth, the audiences 
for Romance poetry, especially through the regions of 
southern and northern France, increased and became 
diversified. They were made up of all classes, save the 
brute serf, and of both sexes. The chansons de geste met 
the taste of the feudal barons ; the Arthurian Cycle charmed 
the feudal dames; the coaiise fabliaux pleased the bourgeoisie; 
and chansons of all kinds might be found diverting by various 
people. If the religious side was less strongly represented, 
it was because the closeness of the language to the clerkly 
and liturgical Latin left no such need of translations as was 
felt from the beginning among peoples of Germanic speech. 
Still the Gospels, especially the apocryphal, were put into 
Old French, and miracles de Notre Dame without number ; 
also legends of the saints, and devout tales of many kinds. 

The accentual verses of the Romance tongues had their 
source in the popular accentual Latin verse of the later 
Roman period. Their development was not unrelated to 
the Latin accentual verse which was superseding metrical 
composition in the centuries extending, one may say, from 
the fifth to the eleventh. Divergences between the Latin 
and Romance verse would be caused by the linguistic 
evolution through which the Romance tongues were becoming 
independent languages. Nor was this divergence uninfluenced 
by the fact that Romance poetry was popular and usually 
concerned with topics of this life, while Latin poetry in the 
most striking lines of its evolution was liturgical ; and even 
when secular in topic tended to become learned, since it was 


the product of the academically educated classes. Much of 
the vernacular (Romance as well as Germanic) poetry in the 
Middle Ages was composed by unlearned men who had at 
most but a speaking acquaintance with Latin, and knew 
little of the antique literature. This was true, generally, of 
the Troubadours of Provence, of the authors of the Old 
French chansons de geste, and of such a courtly poet as 
Chretien de Troies ; true likewise of the great German 
Minnesingers, epic poets rather, Gottfried von Strassburg, 
Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Walther von der Vogelweide. 

On the other hand, vernacular poetry might be written 
by highly learned men, of whom the towering though late 
example would be Dante Alighieri. An instance somewhat 
nearer to us at present is Jean Clopinel or de Meun, the 
author of the second part of the Roman de la rose. His 
extraordinary Voltairean production embodies all the learning 
of the time ; and its scholar-author was a man of genius, who 
incorporated his learning and the fruit thereof very organically 
in his poem. 

But here, at the close of our consideration of the 
mediaeval appreciation of the Classics, and the relations 
between the Classics and mediaeval Latin literature, we are 
not occupied with the very loose and general question of the 
amount of classical learning to be found in the vernacular 
literatures of western Europe. That was a casual matter 
depending on the education and learning, or lack thereof, of 
the author of the given piece. But it may be profitable to 
glance at the passing over of antique themes of story into 
mediaeval vernacular literature, and the manner of their 
refashioning. This is a huge subject, but we shall not go 
into it deeply, or pursue the various antique themes through 
their endless propagations. 

Antique stories aroused and pointed the mediaeval 
imagination ; they made part of the never-absent antique 
influence which helped to bring the mediaeval peoples on 
and evoke in them an articulate power to fashion and create 
all kinds of mediaeval things. But with antique story as 
with other antique material, the Middle Ages had to turn it 
over and absorb it, and also had to become themselves with 
power, before they could refashion the antique theme or 


create along its lines. All this had taken place by the 
middle of the twelfth century. As to choice of matter, 
twelfth-century refashioners would either select an antique 
theme suited to their handling, or extract what appealed to 
them from some classic story. In the one case as in the 
other they might recast, enlarge, or invent as their faculties 

Mediaeval taste took naturally to the degenerate pro- 
ductions of the late antique or transition centuries. The 
Greek novels seem to have been unknown, except the 
Apollonius of Tyre.'^ But the congenially preposterous story 
of Alexander by the Pseudo-Callisthenes was available in a 
sixth-century Latin version, and was made much of. Equally 
popular was the debasement and intentional distortion of the 
Tale of Troy in the work of " Dares " and " Dictys " ; other 
tales were aptly presented in Ovid's Metamorphoses ; and 
the stories of Hero and Leander, of Pyramus and Thisbe, of 
Narcissus, Orpheus, Cadmus, Daedalus, were widely known 
and often told in the Middle Ages. 

The mediaeval writers made as if they believed these 
tales. At least they accepted them as they would have 
their own audiences accept their recasting, with little reflec- 
tion as to whether truth or fable. But was the work of 
the refashioners conscious fiction ? Scarcely, when it simply 
recast the old story in mediaevalizing paraphrase ; but when 
the poet went on and wove out of ten lines a thousand, he 
must have known himself devising. 

The mediaeval treatment of classic themes of history and 
epic poetry shows how the Middle Ages refashioned and 
reinspired after their own image whatever they took from 
the antique. If it was partly their fault, it was also their 
unavoidable misfortune that they received these great themes 
in the literary distortions of the transition centuries. Doubt- 
less they preferred encyclopaedic dulness to epic unity ; 

^ For this novel, a Greek original is usually assumed ; but the Middle Ages 
had it only in a sixth-century Latin version. It was copied in Jourdain de Blaie, 
a chanson de geste. See Hagen, Der Roman von Konig Apollonius in seinen ver- 
schiedenen Bearbeitungen (Berlin, 1878). The other Greek novels doubtless 
would have been as popular had the Middle Ages known them. In fact, the 
Ethiopica of Heliodorus, and others of these novels, did become popular enough 
through translations in the sixteenth century. 


they loved fantasy rather than history, and of course de- 
Hghted in the preposterous, as they found it in the Latin 
version of the Life and Deeds of Alexander. As for the 
Tale of Troy, the real Homer never reached them : and 
perhaps mediaeval peoples who were pleased, like Virgil's 
Romans, to draw their origins from Trojan heroes, would 
have rejected Homer's story just as " Dares " and " Dictys," 
whoever they were, did.^ The true mediaeval rifacimenti, 
to wit, the retellings of these tales in the vernacular, mirror 
the mediaeval mind, the mediaeval character, and the whole 
panorama of mediaeval life and fantasy. 

The chief epic themes drawn from the antique were the 
Tales of Troy and Thebes and the story of Aeneas. In 
verse and prose they were retold in the vernacular literatures 
and also in mediaeval Latin. ^ We shall, however, limit our 
view to the primary Old French versions, which formed the 
basis of compositions in German, Italian, English, as well as 
French. They were composed between 1150 and 1170 by 
Norman-French trouveres. The names of the authors of 
the Roman de Thebes and the Eneas are unknown ; the 
Roman de Troie was written by Benoit de St. More. 

These poems present a universal substitution of mediaeval 
manners and sentiment. For instance, one observes that 
the epic participation of the pagan gods is minimized, and 
in the Roman de Troie even discarded ; necromancy, on the 

^ Hugo of St. Victor says in the twelfth century : " Apud gentUes primus 
Darhes Phrygius Trojanam historiam edidit, quam in foliis palmarum ab eo 
scriptam esse ferunt " (Erud. didas. iii. cap. 3 ; Migne 176, col. 767). 

On the Trojan origin of the Franks, Britons, and other peoples, see Joly in 
his " Benoit de St. More et le Roman de Troie," pp. 606-635 {Mem. de la Soc. des 
Antiquaires de Normandie, vol. vii. 3™^ ser., 1869) ; also Graf., Roma nella memoria, 
etc., del medio aevo. The Trojan origin of the Franks was a commonplace in the 
early Middle Ages, see e.g. Aimoinus of Fleury in beginning of his Historia Fran- 
corum, Migne 139, col. 637. 

On Dares the Phrygian and Dictys the Cretan see " Dares and Dictys," N. E. 
Grif&n (Johns Hopkins Studies, Baltimore, 1907) ; Taylor, Classical Heritage, 
pp. 40 and 360 (authorities) ; also, generally, L. Constans, " L'fipopee antique," 
in Petit de Julleville's Histoire de la tangue et de la littirature frangaise, vol. i. 
(Paris, 1896). 

^ Joseph of Exeter or de Iscano, as he is called, at the close of the twelfth 
century composed a Latin poem in six books of hexameters entitled De bello 
Trojano. It is one of the best mediaeval productions in that metre. The author 
followed Dares, but his diction shows a study of Virgil, Ovid, Statius, and Claudian. 
See J. J. Jusserand, De Josepho Exoniensi vel Iscano (Paris, 1877) ; A. Sarradin, 
De Josepho Iscano, Belli Trojani, etc. (Versailles, 1878). 


other hand, abounds. A more interestmg change is the 
transformation of the love episode. That had become an 
epic adjunct in Alexandrian Greek literature as early as the 
third century before Christ. It existed in the antique 
sources of all these mediaeval poems. Nevertheless, the 
romantic narratives of courtly love in the latter are mediaeval 

The Eneas relates the love of Lavinia forfthe hero, most 
correctly reciprocated by him. The account of it fills four- 
teen hundred lines, and has no precedent in Virgil's poem, 
which in other respects is followed closely. Lavinia sees 
Aeneas from her tower, and at once understands a previous 
discourse of her mother on the subject of love. She utters 
love's plaints, and then faints because Aeneas does not seem 
to notice her. After which she passes a sleepless night. 
The next morning she tells her mother, who is furious, since 
she favours Tumus as a suitor. The girl falls senseless, but 
coming to herself when alone, she recalls love's stratagems, 
and attaches a letter to an arrow which is shot so as to fall 
at Aeneas's feet. Aeneas reads the letter, and turns and 
salutes the fair one furtively, that his followers may not see. 
Then he enters his tent and falls so sick with love that he 
takes to his bed. The next day Lavinia watches for him, 
and thinks him false, till at last, pale and feeble, he appears, 
and her heart acquits him ; amorous glances now fly back 
and forth between them.^ 

To have this jaded jilt grow sick with love is a little too 
much for us, and Aeneas is absurd ; but the universal human 
touches us quite otherwise in the sweet changing heart of 
Briseida in the Roman de Troie. There is no ground for 
denjdng to Benoit of St. More his meed of fame for creatmg 
this charming person and starting her upon her career. 
Following " Dares," Benoit calls her Briseida ; but she 
becomes the Griseis of Boccaccio's Filostrafo ; and what 
good man does not sigh and love her under the name of 
Cressid in Chaucer's poem, though he may deplore her 
somewhat brazen heartlessness in Shakespeare's play. 

It is not given to all men, or women, in presence or 
absence, in life and death, to love once and forever. One has 

^ Eneas, ed. by Salverda de Grave (Halle, 1891), lines 7857-9262. 


the stable heart, another's fancy is quickly turned. Some- 
times, of course, our moral sledge-hammers should be brought 
to bear ; but a little hopeless smile may be juster, as we sigh 
" she (it is more often " he ") couldn't help it." Such was 
Briseida, the sweet, loving, helpless — coquette ? jilt ? flirt ? 
these words are all too belittling to tell her truly. Benoit 
knew better. He took her dry-as-dust characterization from 
" Dares " ; he gave it life, and then let his fair creature do 
just the things she might, without ceasing to be she. 

The abject " Dares " (Benoit may have had a better 
story under that name) in his catalogue of characters has 
this : " Briseidam formosam, alta statura, candidam, capillo 
flavo et moUi, superciliis junctis, oculis venustis, corpore 
aequali, blandam, affabilem, verecundam, animo simplici [O 
ye gods !], piam." He makes no other mention of this tall, 
graceful girl, with her lovely eyes and eyebrows meeting 
above, her modest, pleasant mien, and simple soul ; for 
simple she was, and therein lies the direst bit of truth about 
her. For it is simple and uncomplex to take the colour of 
new scenes and faces, and of new proffered love when the 
old is far away. 

Now see what Benoit does with this dust : Briseida is 
the daughter of Calchas, a Trojan seer who had passed over 
to the Greeks, warned by Apollo. He is in the Grecian 
host, but his daughter is in Troy. Benoit says, she was 
engaging, lovelier and fairer than the fleur de lis — though 
her eyebrows grew rather too close together. " Beaux yeux " 
she had, " de grande maniere," and charming was her talk, and 
faultless her breeding as her dress. Much was she loved 
and much she loved, although her heart changed ; and she 
was very loving, simple, and kind : 

" Molt fu amee et molt ameit 
Mes sis corages li changeit ; 
Et si esteit molt amorose, 
Sim.ple et almosniere et pitose." ^ 

Calchas wants his daughter, and Priam decides to send 

1 Roman de Troie, 5257-5270, ed. Joly ; " Benoit de St. More et le Roman 
de Troie, etc.," Mem. de la Soc. des Antiquaires de Normandie, vol. vii. s'^^ ger., 
1869. On its sources see also L. Constans, in Petit de Julleville's Hist, de la langue 
et de la litt. frangaise, vol. i. pp. 188-220. 


her. There is truce between the armies. Troilus, Troy's 
glorious young knight, matchless in beauty, in arms second 
only to his brother Hector, is beside himself. He loves 
Briseida, and she him. What tears and protestations, and 
what vows ! But the girl must go to her father. 

On the morrow the young dame has other cares — to see 
to the packing of her lovely dresses and put on the loveliest 
of them ; over all she threw a mantle inwoven with the 
flowers of Paradise. The Trojan ladies add their tears to 
the damsel's ; for she is ready to die of grief at leaving her 
lover. Benoit assures us that she will not weep long ; it is 
not woman's way, he continues somewhat mediaevally. 

The brilliant cortege is met by one still more distinguished 
from the Grecian host. Troilus must turn back, and the 
lady passes to the escort of Diomede. She was young ; he 
was impetuous ; he looks once, and then greets her with a 
torrential declaration of love. He never loved before ! ! He 
is hers, body and soul and high emprize. Briseida speaks 
him fair : 

" At this time it would be wrong for me to say a word of love. 
You would deem me light indeed ! Why, I hardly know you ! 
and girls so often are deceived by men. What you have said 
cannot move a heart grieving, like mine, to lose my — friend, and 
others whom I may never see again. For one of my station to 
speak to you of love ! I have no mind for that. Yet you seem of 
such rank and prowess that no girl under heaven ought to refuse 
you. It is only that I have no heart to give. If I had, surely I 
could hold none dearer than you. But I have neither the thought 
nor power, and may God never give it to me ! " ^ 

One need not tell the flash of joy that then was 
Diomede's, nor the many troubles that were to be his before 
at last Briseida finds that her heart has indeed turned to this 
new lover, always at hand, courting danger for her sake, and 
at last wounded almost to death by Troilus's spear. The end 
of the story is assured in her first discreetly halting words. 

Enough has been said to show how far Benoit was from 
Omers qui fu clers merveillos, and what a story in some 
thirty thousand lines he has made of the dry data of " Dares " 
and " Dictys." His Briseida, with her changing heart, was to 

1 Roman de Troie, 13235 sqq. 



rival steadier - minded but not more lovable women of 
mediaeval fiction — Iseult or Guinevere. And although the 
far-off echo of Briseid's name comes from the ancient cen- 
turies, none the less she is as entirely a mediaeval creation 
as Lancelot's or Tristram's queen. Thus the Middle Ages 
took the antique narrative, and created for themselves within 
the altered lines of the old tale.^ 

The transformation of themes of epic story in vernacular 
mediaeval versions is paralleled by mediaeval refashionings 
of historical subjects which had been Actionized before the 
antique period closed. A chief example is the romance of 
Alexander the Great, The antique source was the con- 
queror's Life and Deeds, written by one who took the 
name of Alexander's physician, Callisthenes. The author 
was some Egyptian Greek of the first century after Christ. 
His work is preposterous from the beginning to the end, and 
presents a succession of impossible marvels performed by 
the somewhat indistinguishable heroes of the story. Its 
qualities were reflected in the Latin versions, which in turn 
were drawn upon by the Old French rhyming romancers. 

1 The Roman de Thebes, the third of these large poems, is temperate in the 
adaptation and extension of its theme. Its ten thousand or more lines of eight- 
syllable rhyming verse are no longer than the Thehaid of Statins, and as a narrative 
make quite as interesting reading. Statins, who lived under Domitian, was a 
poet of considerable skill, but with no genius for the construction of an epic. 
His work reads well in patches, but does not move. Several books are taken 
up with getting the Argive army in motion, and when the reader and Jove himself 
are wearied, it moves on — to the next halt. And so forth through the whole 
twelve books. See Nisard, j^tudes sur les poetes latins de la decadence, vol. i. p. 
261 sqq. (2nd ed., Paris, 1849) ; Pichon, Hist, de la litt. lat. p. 606 (2nd ed., Paris, 
1898). The Roman de Thebes was not drawn directly from the work of Statins, 
but through the channels, apparently, of intervening prose compendia. It also 
evidently drew from other works, as it contains matters not found in Statius's 
Thebaid. It is easy, if not inspiring, reading. The style is clear, and the narrative 
moves. Of course it presents a general mediaevalizing of the manners of Statius's 
somewhat fustian antique heroes ; it introduces courtly love (e.g. the love between 
Parthonopeus and Antigone, lines 3793 sqq.), mediaeval commonplaces, and feudal 
customs. It drops the antique conception of accursed .fate as a fxmdamental 
motive of the plot, substituting in its place the varied play of romantic and 
chivakic sentiment. 

Leopold Constans has made the Roman de Thebes his own. Having followed 
the story of Oedipus through the Middle Ages in his Ligende d'CEdipe, etc. (Paris, 
188 1), he has corrected some of his views in his critical edition of the poem, " Le 
Roman de Thebes," 2 vols., 1890 {Soc. des anciens textes frangais), and has treated 
the same matters more popularly in Petit de Julleville's Hist, de la langue et de 
la litt. frangaise, vol. i. pp. 170-188. These works fully discuss the sources, date, 
and language of the poem, and the later redactions in prose and verse through 


The latter mediaevalized and feudalized the tale. Nor were 
they halted by any absurdity, or conscious of the character- 
lessness of the puppets of the tale.^ 

Further to pursue the fortunes of antique themes in 
mediaeval literature would lead us beyond bounds. Yet 
mention should be made of the handling of minor narratives, 
as the Metamorphoses of Ovid. They were very popular, 
and from the twelfth century on, paraphrases or refashionings 
were made of many of them. These added to the old tale a 
the interesting mediaeval element of the moral or didactic 
allegory. The most prodigious instance of this moralizing 
of Ovid was the work of Chretien Legouajs, a French \ 
Franciscan who wrote at the beginning of the fourteenth 
century. In some seventy thousand lines he presented the 
stories of the Metamorphoses, the allegories which he 
discovered in them, and the moral teaching of the same.^ 

Equally interesting was the application of allegory to 
Ovid's Ars amatoria. The first translators treated this 
frivolous production as an authoritative treatise upon the art 
of winning love. So it was, perhaps, only Ovid was amusing 
himself by making a parable of his youthful diversions. 
Mediaeval imitators changed the habits of the gilded youth 
of Rome to suit the society of their time. But they did 
more, being votaries of courtly love. Such love in the 
Middle Ages had its laws which were prone to deduce their 
lineage from Ovid's verses. But its uplifted spirit revelled 
in symbolism ; and tended to change to spiritual allegory 
whatever authority it imagined itself based upon, even though 
the authority were a book as dissolute, when seriously 
considered, as the Ars amatoria. It is strange to think of 
this poem as the very far off street-walking prototype of De 
Lorris's Roman de la rose. 

^ On Pseudo-Callisthenes see Paul Meyer, Alexandre le Grand dans la litter ature 
frangaise du moyen age (Paris, 1886) ; Taylor, Classical Heritage, etc., pp. 38 and 
360. In the last quarter of the twelfth century Walter of Lille, called also Walter 
of Chatillon, wrote his Alexandreis in ten books of easy- flowing hexameters. It 
is printed in Migne, Pat. Lot. 209, col. 463-572. Of. ante, page 221. His work 
shows that a mediaeval scholar-poet could reproduce a historical theme quite 
soberly. His poem was read by other bookmen ; but the Alexander of the Middle 
Ages remained the Alexander of the fabulous vernacular versions. 

^ See Gaston Paris, " Chretien Legouais et autres imitateurs d'Ovide," Hist, 
litt. de la France, t. xxix., pp. 455-525. 



I. The Pontes Juris Civilis. 
II. Roman and Barbarian Codification. 

III. The Mediaeval Appropriation. 

IV. Church Law. 

V. Political Theorizing. 

Of all examples of mediaeval intellectual growth through 
the appropriation of the antique, none is more completely 
illuminating than the mediaeval use of Roman law. As 
with patristic theology and antique philosophy, the Roman 
law was crudely taken and then painfully learned, till in the 
end, vitally and broadly mastered, it became even a means 
and mode of mediaeval thinking. Its mediaeval appropria- 
tion illustrates the legal capacity of the Middle Ages and 
their concern with law both as a practical business and an 
intellectual interest. 

Primitive law is practical ; it develops through the 
adjustment of social exigencies. Gradually, however, in an 
intelligent community which is progressing under favouring 
influences, some definite consciousness of legal propriety, 
utility, or justice, makes itself articulate in statements of 
general principles of legal right and in a steady endeavour 
to adjust legal relationships and adjudicate actual con- 
troversies in accordance. This endeavour to formulate just 
and useful principles, and decide novel questions in accordance 
with them, and enunciate new rules in harmony with the 



body of the existing law, is jurisprudence, which thus works 
always for concord, co-ordination, and system. 

There was a jurisprudential element in the early law of 
Rome. The Twelve Tables are trenchant announcements 
of rules of procedure and substantial law. They have the 
form of the general imperative : "Thus letgit be; If one 
summons [another] to court, let him go ; As a man shall 
have appointed by his Will, so let it be ; When one makes a 
bond or purchase,^ as the tongue shall have pronounced it, so 
let it be." These statements of legal rules are far from 
primitive ; they are elastic, inclusive, and suited to form the 
foundation of a large and free legal development. And the 
consistency with which the law of debt was carried out to 
its furthest cruel conclusion, the permitted division of the 
body of the defaulting debtor among several creditors,^ gave 
earnest of the logic which was to shape the Roman law in 
its humaner periods. Moreover, there is jurisprudence in 
the arrangement of the Laws of the Twelve Tables. Never- 
theless, the jurisprudential element is still but inchoate. 

The Romans were endowed with a genius for law. 
Under the later Republic and the Empire, the minds of 
their jurists were trained and broadened by Greek philosophy 
and the study of the laws of Mediterranean peoples ; Rome 
was becoming the commercial as well as social and political 
centre of the world. From this happy combination of causes 
resulted the most comprehensive body of law and the noblest 
jurisprudence ever evolved by a people. The great juris- 
consults of the Empire, working upon the prior labours of 
long lines of older praetors and jurists, perfected a body of 
law of well-nigh universal applicability, which through- 
out was logically consistent with general principles of law 
and equity, recognized as fundamental. The latter were 
in part suggested by Greek philosophy, especially by Stoicism 
as adapted to the Roman temperament. They represented 
the best ethics, the best justice of the time. As principles 
of law, however, they would have hung in the air, had not 
the practical as well as theorizing genius of the jurisconsults 

1 The words " nexum mancipiumque " are more formal and special than the 
English given above. 

^ The early law had as yet devised no execution against the debtor's property. 


been equal to the task of embod5dng them in legal proposi- 
tions, and appl5dng the latter to the decision of cases. Thus 
was evolved a body of practical rules of law, controlled, co- 
ordinated, and, as one may say, universalized through the 
constant logical employment of sound principles of legal 

The Roman law, broadly taken, was heterogeneous in 
origin, and complex in its modes of growth. The great 
jurisconsults of the Empire recognized its diversity of source, 
and distinguished its various characteristics accordingly. 
They assumed (and this was a pure assumption) that every 
civilized people lived under two kinds of law, the one its 
own, springing from some recognized law-making source 
within the community ; the other the jus gentium, or the 
law inculcated among all peoples by natural reason or 
common needs. 

The supposed origin of the jus gentium was not simple. 
Back in the time of the Republic it had become necessary 
to recognize a law for the many strangers in Rome, who were 
not entitled to the protection of Rome's jus civile. The 
edict of the praetor Peregrinus covered their substantial 
rights, and sanctioned simple modes of sale and lease which 
did not observe the forms prescribed by the jus civile. So 
this edict became the chief source of the jus gentium so-called, 
to wit, of those liberal rules of law which ignored the 
peculiar formalities of the stricter law of Rome. Probably 
foreign laws, that is to say, the commercial customs of the 
Mediterranean world, were in fact recognized ; and their 
study led to a perception of elements common to the laws 
of many peoples. At all events, in course of time the jus 
gentium came to be regarded as consisting of universal rules 
of law which all peoples might naturally follow. 

The recognition of these simple modes of contracting 
obligations, and perhaps the knowledge that certain rules of 

^ The jurisconsults whose opinions were authoritative flourished in the second 
and third centuries. The great five were Gaius, Julian, Papinian, Ulpian, Paulus . 
Inasmuch as these jurisconsults of the Empire were members of the Imperial (or, 
later, Praetorian) Auditory, they were judges in a court of last resort, and their 
" responsa " were decisions of actual cases. They subsequently "digested" 
them in their books. See Mtmroe Smith, " Problems of Roman Legal History," 
Columbia Law Review, 1904, p. 538. 


law obtained among many peoples, fostered the concep- 
tion of common or natural justice, which human reason 
was supposed to inculcate everywhere. Such a concep- 
tion could not fail to spring up in the minds of Roman 
jurists who were educated in Stoical philosophy, the ethics 
of which had much to say of a common human nature. 
Indeed the idea naturalis ratio was in the air, and the 
thought of common elements of law and justice which 
naturalis ratio inter omnes homines constituit, lay so close at 
hand that it were perhaps a mistake to try to trace it to 
any single source. Practically the jus gentium became 
identical with jus naturale, which Ulpian imagined as taught 
by nature to all animals ; the jus gentium, however, belonged 
to men alone.^ 

Thus rules which were conceived as those of the jus 
gentium came to represent the principles of rational law, and 
impressed themselves upon the development of the jus civile. 
They informed the whole growth and application of Roman 
law with a breadth of legal reason. And conceptions of a 
jus naturale and a jus gentium became cognate legal fictions, 
by the aid of which praetor and jurisconsult might justify 
the validity of informal modes of contract. In their appli- 
cation, judge and jurist learned how and when to disregard 
the formal requirements of the older and stricter Roman law, 
and found a way to the recognition of what was just and 
convenient. These fictions agreed with the supposed nature 
and demands of aequitas, which is the principle of progressive 
and discriminating legal justice. Law itself (jus) was iden- 
tical with aequitas conceived (after Celsus's famous phrase) 
as the ars boni et aequi. 

^ Dig. i. I (" De Just, et jure ") i. See Savigny, System des heutigen romischen 
Rechts, i. p. 109 sqq. Apparently some of the jiurists (e.g. Gaius, Ins. i. i) draw 
no substantial distinctions between the jus naturale and the jus gentium. Others 
seem to distinguish. With the latter, jus naturale might represent natural or 
instinctive principles of justice common to all men, and jus gentium, the laws 
and customs which experience had led men to adopt. For instance, libertas is 
jure naturali, whUe dominatio or servitus is introduced ex gentium jure [Dig. i. 5, 4 ; 
Dig. xii. 6, 64). Jus gentium represented common expediency, but its institutions 
(e.g. servitus) might or might not accord with natmral justice. For manumissio 
as well as servitus was ex jure gentium [Dig. i. i, 4), and so were common modes 
and principles of contract. Ulpian's notion of the jus naturale as pertaining to all 
animals, and jus gentium as belonging to men alone, was but a catching classifica- 
tion, and did not represent any commonly followed distinction. 


The Roman law proper, the jus civile, had multifarious 
sources. First the leges, enacted by the people ; then the 
plehiscita, sanctioned by the Plebs ; the senatus consulta, 
passed by the Senate ; the constitutiones and rescripta ^ 
principum, ordained by the Emperor. Excepting the 
rescripta, these (to cover them with a modern expression) 
were statutory. They were laws announced at a specific 
time to meet some definite exigency. Under the Empire, the 
constitutiones principum became the most important, and 
then practically the only kind of legal enactment. 

Two or three other sources of Roman law remain for 
mention : first, the edicta of those judicial magistrates, 
especially the praetors, who had the authority to issue them. 
In his edict the praetor announced what he held to be the 
law and how he would apply it. The edict of each successive 
praetor was a renewal and expansion or modification of 
that of his predecessor. Papinian calls this source of law 
the "jus praetorium, which the praetors have introduced to 
aid, supplement, or correct the jus civile for the sake of 
public utility." 

Next, the responsa or auctoritas jurisprudentium, by 
which were intended the judicial decisions and the authority 
of the legal writings of the famous jurisconsults. Imperial 
rescripts recognized these responsa as authoritative for the 
Roman courts ; and some of the emperors embodied 
portions of them in formally promulgated collections, 
thereby giving them the force of law. Justinian's Digest 
is the great example of this method of codification.^ One 
need scarcely add that the authoritative writings and 
responsa of the jurisconsults extended and applied the jus 
gentium, that is to say, the rules and principles of the best- 
considered jurisprudence, freed so far as might be from 
the formal peculiarities of the jus civile strictly speaking. 
And the same was true of the praetorian edict. The 

^ Constitutio is the more general term, embracing whatever the emperor 
announces in writing as a law. The term rescript properly applies to the emperor's 
written answers to questions addressed to him by magistrates, and to the decisions 
of his Auditory rendered in his name. 

* For this whole matter, see vol. i. of Savigny's System des heutigen romischen 
Rechts ; Gaius, Institutes, the opening paragraphs ; and the first two chapters 
of the first Book of Justinian's Digest. 


Roman law also gave legal effect to inveterata consuetudo, 
the law which is sanctioned by custom : "for since the 
laws bind us because established by the decision of the 
people, those unwritten customs which the people have 
approved are binding." ^ 

Simply naming the sources of Roman law indicates the 
ways in which it grew, and the part taken by the juris- 
consults in its development as a imiversal and elastic 
system. It was due to their labours that legal principles 
were logically carried out through the mass of enactments 
and decisions ; that is, it was due to their large considera- 
tion of the body of existing law, that each novel decision — 
each case of first impression — should be a true legal 
deduction, and not a solecism ; and that even the new 
enactments should not create discordant law. And it was 
due to their labours that as rules of law were called forth, 
they were stated clearly and in terms of well-nigh universal 

The Laws of the Twelve Tables showed the action of 
legal intelligence and the result of much experience. They 
sanctioned a large contractual freedom, if within strict 
forms ; they stated broadly the right of testamentary 
disposition. Many of their provisions, which commonly 
were but authoritative recognitions, were expressions of 
basic legal principles, the application of which might be 
extended to meet the needs of advancing civic life. And 
through the enlargement of this fundamental collection of 
law, or deviating from it in accordance with principles which 
it implicitly embodied, the jurists of the Republic and the 
first centuries of the Empire formed and developed a body 
of private and public law from which the jurisprudence of 
Europe and America has never even sought to free itself. 

Roman jurisprudence was finally incorporated in 
Justinian's Digest, which opens with a statement of the 
most general principles, even those which would have 
hung in the air but for the Roman genius of logical and 
practical application to the concrete instance. " Jus est ars 
boni et aequi " — it is better to leave these words untranslated, 
such is the wealth of significance and connotation which 

1 Dig. i. 3, 32. 


they have acquired. " Justitia est constans et perpetua 
voluntas jus suum cuique tribuendi. Juris praecepta sunt 
haec : honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique 
tribuere. Jurisprudentia est divinarum atque humanarum 
rerum notitia, justi atque injusti scientia." 

The first pregnant phrase is from the older jurist 
Celsus ; the longer passage is by the later Ulpian, and may 
be taken as an expansion of the first. Both the one and 
the other expressed the most advanced and philosophic 
ethics of the ancient world. They are both in the first 
chapter of the Digest, wherein they become enactments. 
An extract from Paulus follows : " Jus has different mean- 
ings ; that which is always aequum ac bonum is called jus, 
to wit, the jus naturale : jus also means the jus civile, that 
which is expedient {utile) for all or most in any state. 
And in our state we have also the praetorian jus." This 
passage indicates the course of the development of the 
Roman law : the fundamental and ceaselessly growing core 
of specifically Roman law, the jus civile ; its continual 
equitable application and enlargement, which was the 
praetor's contribution ; and the constant application of the 
aequum ac bonum, observed perhaps in legal rules common 
to many peoples, but more surely existing in the high 
reasoning of jurists instructed in the best ethics and 
philosophy of the ancient world, and learned and practised 
in the law. 

Now notice some of the still general, but distinctly 
legal, rather than ethical, rules collected in the Digest : 
The laws cannot provide specifically for every case that 
may arise ; but when their intent is plain, he who is 
adjudicating a cause should proceed ad similia, and thus 
declare the law in the case.^ Here is stated the general 
and important formative principle, that new cases should 
be decided consistently and eleganter, which means logically 
and in accordance with established rules. Yet legal 
solecisms will exist, perhaps in a statute or in some rule 
of law evoked by a special exigency. Their application 
is not to be extended. For them the rule is : " What has 
been accepted contra rationem juris, is not to be drawn out 

1 Dig. i. 3, lo and 12. 


(producendum) to its consequences," ^ or again : " What was 
introduced not by principle, but at first through error, does 
not obtain in Hke cases." ^ 

These are true principles making for the consistent 
development of a body of law. Observe the scope and 
penetration of some other general rules : " Nuptias non 
concubitus, sed consensus facit." ^ This goes to the legal 
root of the whole conception of matrimony, and is still the 
recognized starting-point of all law upon that subject. 
Again : " An agreement to perform what is impossible will 
not sustain a suit." * This is still ever5rwhere a fundamental 
principle of the law of contracts. Again : " No one can 
transfer to another a greater right than he would have 
himself," ^ another principle of fundamental validity, but, 
of course, like all rules of law subject in its application to 
the qualifying operation of other legal rules. 

Roman jurisprudence recognized the danger of definition : 
" Omnis definitio in jure civili periculosa est." ^ Yet it could 
formulate admirable ones ; for example : " Inheritance is 
succession to the sum total {universum jus) of the rights of 
the deceased." '^ This definition excels in the completeness 
of its legal view of the matter, and is not injured by the 
obvious omission to exclude those personal privileges and 
rights of the deceased which terminate upon his death. 

Thus we note the sources and constructive principles 
of the Roman law. We observe that while certain of the 
former might be called " statutory," the chief means and 
method of development was the declarative edict of the 
praetor and the trained labour of the jurisconsults. In 
these appears the consummate genius of Roman juris- 
prudence, a jurisprudence matchless in its rational conception 
of principles of justice which were rooted in a philosophic 
consideration of human life ; matchless also in its carrpng 
through of such principles into the body of the law and 
the decision of every case. 

1 Dig. i. 3, 14. 2 /5j^_ 29. ^ Dig. 1. 17, 30. 

* Dig. 1. 17, 31. 5 iijid^ 54_ 6 Ibid. 202. 

' Dig. 1. 16, 24 ; Ibid. 17, 62. 



The Roman law was the creation of the genius of 
Rome and also the product of the complex civilization of 
which Rome was the kinetic centre. As the Roman power 
crumbled, Teutonic invaders established kingdoms within 
territories formerly subject to Rome and to her law — a 
law, however, which commonly had been modified to suit 
the peoples of the provinces. Those territories retained 
their population of provincials. The invaders, Burgundians, 
Visigoths, and Franks, planting themselves in the different 
parts of Gaul, brought their own law, under which they 
continued to live, but which they did not force upon the 
provincial population. On the contrary, Burgundian and 
Visigothic kings promulgated codes of Roman law for the 
latter. And these represent the forms in which the Roman 
law first passed over into modes of acceptance and applica- 
tion no longer fully Roman, but partly Teutonic and 
incipiently mediaeval. They exemplify, moreover, the fact, 
so many aspects of which have been already noticed, of 
transitional and partly barbarized communities drawing 
from a greater past according to their simpler needs. 

One may say that these codes carried on processes of 
decline from the full creative genius of Roman jurisprudence, 
which had irrevocably set in under the Empire in the 
fourth and fifth centuries. The decline lay in a weakening 
of the intellectual power devoted to the law and its 
development. The living growth of the praetorian edict 
had long since come to an end ; and now a waning juris- 
prudential intelligence first ceased to advance the develop- 
ment of law, and then failed to save from desuetude the 
achieved jurisprudence of the past. So the jurisprudential 
and juridical elements (jus) fell away from the law, and 
the imperial constitutions {leges) remained the sole legal 
vehicle and means of amendment. The need of codification 
was felt, and that preserving and eliminating process was 
entered upon. 

Roman codification never became a reformulation. The 
Roman Codex was a collection of existing constitutions. A 


certain jurist (" Gregorianus ") made an orderiy and compre- 
hensive collection of such as early as the close of Diocletian's 
reign ; it was supplemented by the work of another jurist 
(" Hermogenianus ") in the time of Constantine. Each com- 
pilation was the work of a private person, who, without 
authority to restate, could but compile the imperial con- 
stitutions. The same method was adopted by the later 
codifications, which were made and promulgated under 
imperial decree. There were two which were to be of 
supreme importance for the legal future of western Europe, 
the Theodosian Code and the legislation of Justinian. The 
former was promulgated in 438 by Theodosius II. and 
Valentinianus. The emperors formally announce that " in 
imitation {ad similitudinem) of the Code of Gregorianus and 
Hermogenianus we have decreed that all the Constitutions 
should be collected " which have been promulgated by 
Constantine and his successors, including ourselves.^ So 
the Theodosian Code contains many laws of the emperors 
who decreed it.^ It was thus a compilation of imperial 
constitutions already in existence, or decreed from year to 
year while the codification was in process (429-438). 
Every constitution is given in the words of its original 
announcement, and with the name of the emperor. 
Evidently this code was not a revision of the law. 

The codification of Justinian began with the promulga- 
tion of the Codex in 529. That was intended to be a com- 
pilation of the constitutions contained in the previous codes 
and still in force, as well as those which had been decreed 
since the time of Theodosius. The compilers received 
authority to omit, abbreviate, and supplement. The Codex 
was revised and promulgated anew in 534. The constitu- 
tions which were decreed during the remainder of Justinian's 
long reign were collected after his death and published as 
Novellae. So far there was nothing radically novel. But 
under Justinian, life and art seemed to have revived in the 
East ; and Tribonian, with the others who assisted in these 
labours, had larger views of legal reform and jurisprudential 

1 Cod. Theod. (ed. by Mommsen and Meyer) i. i, 5. 

^ With the Theodosian Code the word lex, leges, begins to be used for the 
constitutiones or other decrees of a sovereign. 


conservation than the men who worked for Theodosius. 
Justinian and his coadjutors had also serious plans for 
improving the teaching of the law, in the furtherance of 
which the famous little book of Institutes was composed 
after the model, and to some extent in the words, of the 
Institutes of Gains. It was published in 533. 

The great labour, however, which Justinian and his 
lawyers were as by Providence inspired to achieve was the 
encyclopaedic codification of the jurisprudential law. Part 
of the emperor's high-sounding command runs thus : 

" We therefore command you to read and sift out from the 
books pertaining to the jus Romanum composed by the ancient 
learned jurists [antiqui prudentes), to whom the most sacred 
emperors granted authority to indite and interpret the laws, so 
that the material may all be taken from these writers, and incon- 
gruity avoided — for others have written books which have been 
neither used nor recognized. When by the favour of the Deity 
this material shall have been collected, it should be reared with 
toil most beautiful, and consecrated as the own and most holy 
temple of justice, and the whole law {totumjus) should be arranged 
in fifty books under specific titles." ^ 

The language of the ancient jurists was to be preserved 
even critically, that is to say, the compilers were directed 
to emend apparent errors and restore what seemed " verum 
et optimum et quasi ab initio scriptum." It was not the 
least of the providential mercies connected with the compila- 
tion of this great body of jurisprudential law, that Justinian 
and his commission did not abandon the phrasing of the old 
jurisconsults, and restate their opinions in such language 
as we have a sample of in the constitution from which 
the above extract is taken. This jurisprudential part of 
Justinian's Codification was named the Digest or Pandects.^ 

Inasmuch as Justinian's brief reconquest of western 
portions of the Roman Empire did not extend north of the 
Alps, his codification was not promulgated in Gaul or 

1 From the constitution directing the compilation of the Digest, usually 
cited as Deo auctore. 

^ The original plan of Theodosius embraced the project of a Codex of the 
jurisprudential law. See his constitution of the year 429 in Theod. C. i. i, 5. 
Had this been carried out, as it was not, Justinian's Digest would have had a 


Germany. Even in Italy his legislation did not maintain 
itself in general dominance, especially in the north where 
the Lombard law narrowed its application. Moreover, 
throughout the peninsula, the Pandects quickly became as if 
they were not, and fell into desuetude, if that can be said of 
a work which had not come into use. This body of juris- 
prudential law was beyond the legal sense of those monarchi- 
cally-minded and barbarizing centuries, which knew law only 
as the command of a royal lawgiver. The Codex and the 
Novellae were of this nature. They, and not the Digest, 
represent the influence upon Italy of Justinian's legislation 
until the renewed interest in jurisprudence brought the 
Pandects to the front at the close of the eleventh century. 
But Codex and Novellae were too bulky for a period that 
needed to have its intellectual labours made easy. From 
the first, the Novellae were chiefly known and used in the 
condensed form given them in the excellent Epitome of 
/w/za^ws, apparently a Byzantine of the last part of Justinian's 
reign. ^ The cutting down and epitomizing of the Codex 
is more obscure ; probably it began at once ; the incomplete 
or condensed forms were those in common use.^ 

It is, however, with the Theodosian Code and certain 
survivals of the works of the great jurists that we have 
immediately to do. For these were the sources of the 
codes enacted by Gothic and Burgundian kings for their 
Roman or Gallo- Roman subjects. Apparently the earliest 
of them was prepared soon after the year 502, at the com- 
mand of Gondebaud, King of the Burgundians. This, which 
later was dubbed the Papianus,^ was the work of a skilled 
Roman lawyer, and seems quite as much a text-book as a 
code. It set forth the law of the topics important for the 
Roman provincials living in the Burgundian kingdom, not 
merely making extracts from its sources, but stating their 
contents and referring to them as authorities. These sources 

1 Juliani epitome Latina Novellarum Justiniani, ed. by G. Haenel (Leipzig, 


^ Conrat, Ges. der Quellen und Lit. des rom. Rechts, pp. 48-59, and 161 
sqq. ; Mommsen, Zeitschrift fur Rechtsges. 21 (1900), Roman. Abteilung, pp. 


^ Ed. by Bluhme, Mon. Germ, leges, iii. 579-630. Cf. Tardif, Sources du 
droit frangais, 124-128. A code of Burgundian law had already been made. 


were substantially the same as those used by the Visigothic 
Breviarium, which was soon to supersede the Papianus even 
in Burgundy. 

Breviarium was the popular name of the code enacted by 
the Visigothic king Alaric II. about the year 506 for his 
provinciates in the south of Gaul.^ It preserved the integrity 
of its sources, giving the texts in the same order, and with 
the same rubrics, as in the original. The principal source 
was the Theodosian Code ; next in importance the collections 
of Novellae of Theodosius and succeeding emperors ; a few 
texts were taken from the Codes of " Gregorianus " and 
" Hermogenianus." These parts of the Breviarium consisted 
of leges, that is, of constitutions of the emperors. Two 
sources of quite a different character were also drawn upon. 
One was the Institutes of Gains, or rather an old epitome 
which had been made from it. The other was the Sententiae 
of Paulus, the famous " Five Books of Sentences ad filium." 
This work of elementary jurisprudence deserved its great 
repute ; yet its use in the Breviarium may have been due to 
the special sanction which had been given it in one of the 
constitutions of the Theodosian Code, also taken over into 
the Breviarium : " Pauli quoque sententias semper valere 
praecipimus." ^ The same constitution confirmed the Insti- 
tutes of Gains, among other great jurisconsults. Presum- 
ably these two works were the most commonly known as 
well as the clearest and best of elementary jurisprudential 

An interesting feature of the Breviarium, and destined 
to be of great importance, was the Interpretatio accompany- 
ing aU its texts, except those drawn from the epitome of 
Gains. This was not the work of Alaric's compilers, 
but probably represents the approved exposition of the 
leges, with the exposition of the already archaic Sentences 
of Paulus, current in the law schools of southern Gaul in 
the .fifth century. The Interpretatio thus taken into the 
Breviarium had, like the texts, the force of royal law, and 
soon was to surpass them in practice by reason of its 

"^ Edited by Haenel, with the epitomes of it in parallel columns, under the 
name of Lex Romana Visigothorum (Leipzig, 1849). See Tardif, o.c. 129-143. 
2 Cod. Theod. i. 4, 3 ; Brev. i. 4, i. 


perspicuity and modernity. Many manuscripts contain only 
the Interpretatio and omit the texts. 

The Breviarium became the source of Roman law, 
indeed the Roman law par excellence, for the Merovingian 
and then the Carolingian realm, outside of Italy. It was 
soon subjected to the epitomizing process, and its epitomes 
exist, dating from the eighth to the tenth century : they 
reduced it in bulk, and did away with the practical incon- 
venience of lex and interpretatio. Further, the Breviarium, 
and even the epitomes, were glossed with numerous marginal 
or interlinear notes made by transcribers or students. These 
range from definitions of words, sometimes taken from 
Isidore's Etymologiae, to brief explanations of difficulties in 
the text.^ In like manner in Italy, the Codex and Novellae 
of Justinian were, as has been said, reduced to epitomes, 
and also equipped with glosses. 

These barbaric codes of Roman law mark the passage 
of Roman law into incipiently mediaeval stages. On the 
other hand, certain Latin codes of barbarian law present the 
laws of the Teutons touched with Roman conceptions, and 
likewise becoming inchoately mediaeval. 

Freedom, the efficient freedom of the individual, belongs 
to civilization rather than to barbarism. The actual as well 
as imaginary perils surrounding the lives of men who do not 
dwell in a safe society, entail a state of close mutual 
dependence rather than of liberty. Law in a civilized 
community has the twofold purpose of preserving the 
freedom of the individual and of maintaining peace. With 
each advance in human progress, the latter purpose, at least 
in the field of private civil law, recedes a little farther, while 

^ On these epitomes and glosses see Conrat, Ges. der Quellen, etc., pp. 222-252. 
Mention shoiild be made of the Edict of Theodoric the Ostrogoth, a piece of legisla- 
tion contemporary with the Breviarium and the Papianus. In pursuance of 
Theodoric's policy of amalgamating Goths and Romans, the Edict was made for 
both {Barbari Romanique). Its sources were substantially the same as those 
of the Breviarium, except that Gains was not used. The sources are not given 
verbatim, but their contents are restated, often quite bunglingly. Naturally 
a Teutonic influence rims through this short and incomplete code, which contains 
more criminal than private law. No further reference need be made to it because 
its influence practically ceased with the reconquest of Italy by Justinian. It is 
edited by Bluhme, in Mon. Ger. leges, v. 145-169. See as to it, Savigny, Geschichte 
des rom. Rechts, ii. 172-181 ; Salvioli, Storia del diritto italiano, 3rd ed., pp. 



the importance of private law, as compared with penal law, 
constantly increases. 

The law of uncivilized peoples lacks the first of these 
purposes. Its sole conscious object is to maintain, or at 
least provide a method of maintaining, peace ; it is scarcely 
aware that in maintaining peace it is enhancing the freedom 
of every individual. 

The distinct and conscious purpose of early Teutonic 
law was to promote peace within the tribe, or among the 
members of a warband. Thus was law regarded by the 
people — as a means of peace. Its communication or 
ordainment might be ascribed to a God or a divine King. 
But in reality its chief source lay in slowly growing regula- 
tive custom.! The force of law, or more technically speaking 
the legal sanction, lay in the power of the tribe to uphold 
its realized purpose as a tribe ; for the power to maintain 
its solidarity and organization was the final test of its law- 
upholding strength. 

Primarily the old Teutonic law looked to the tribe and 
its sub-units, and scarcely regarded the special claims of an 
individual, or noticed mitigating or aggravating elements 
in his culpability — answerability rather. It prescribed for 
his peace and protection as a member of a family, or as 
one included within the bands of Sippe (blood relationship) ; 
or as one of a warband or a chief's close follower, one of 
his comitatus. On the other hand, the law was stiff, narrow, 
and ungeneralized in its recognized rules. The first Latin 
codifications of Teutonic law are not to be compared for 
breadth and elasticity of statement to the Law of the Twelve 
Tables. And their substance was more primitive. ^ 

The earliest of these first codifications was the Lex 
Salica, codified under Clovis near the year 500. Unquestion- 
ably, contact with Roman institutions suggested the idea, 
even as the Latin language was the vehicle, of this code. 
Otherwise the Lex Salica is un-Christian and un-Roman, 
although probably it was put together after Clovis's baptism. 
It was not a comprehensive codification, and omitted much 

^ Cf. Brunner, Deutsche RechtsgeschicMe, i. p. 109 sqq. 

^ For the characteristics and elements of early Teutonic law, see Brunner, 
Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte, Bd. i. 


that was common knowledge at the time ; which now 
makes it somewhat enigmatical. One finds in it lists of 
thefts of every sort of object that might be stolen, and of 
the various injuries to the person that might be done, and 
the sum of money to be paid in each case as atonement or 
compensation. Such schedules did not set light store on 
life and property. On the contrary, they were earnestly 
intended as the most available protection of elemental 
human rights, and as the best method of peaceful redress. 
The sums awarded as Wergeld were large, and were reckoned 
according to the slain man's rank. By committing a 
homicide, a man might ruin himself and even his blood 
relatives [Sippe), and of course on failure to atone might 
incur servitude or death or outlawry. 

The Salic law is scarcely touched by the law of Rome. 
From this piece ^of intact Teutonism, the codes of other 
Teuton peoples shade off into bodies of law partially 
Romanized, that is, affected by the provincialized Roman 
law current in the locality where the Teutonic tribe found 
a home. The codes of the Burgundians and the Visigoths 
in southern France are examples of this Teutonic-Romanesque 
commingling. On the other hand, the Lombard codes, 
though later in time, held themselves even harshly Teutonic, 
as opposed to any influence from the law of the conquered 
Italian population, for whom the Lombards had less regard 
than Burgundians and Visigoths had for their subject pro- 
vincials. Moreover, as the Frankish realm extended its 
power over other Gallo-Teuton states, the various Teuton 
laws modified each other and tended toward uniformity. 
Naturally the law of the Franks, first the Salic and then the 
partly derivative Ribuarian code, exerted a dominating 
influence. 1 

These Teuton peoples regarded law as pertaining to 
the tribe. There was little conscious intention on their part 
of forcing their laws on the conquered. When the Visigoths 
established their kingdom in southern France they had no 
idea of changing the law of the Gallo-Roman provincials 
living within the Visigothic rule ; and shortly afterwards, 
when the Franks extended their power over the still Roman 

^ See Brunner, Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte, i. p. 254 sqq., and 338-340. 


parts of Gaul, and then over Alemanni, Burgundians, and 
Visigoths, they likewise had no thought of forcing their 
laws either upon Gallo-Romans or upon the Teuton people 
previously dominant within a given territory. This remained 
true even of the later Prankish period, when the Carolingians 
conquered the Lombard kingdom in upper Italy, 

Indeed, to all these Teutons and to the Roman pro- 
vincials as well, it seemed as a matter of course that tribal 
or local laws should be permitted to endure among the 
peoples they belonged to. These assumptions and the 
conditions of the growing Frankish Empire evoked, as it 
were, a more acute mobilization of the principle that to 
each people belonged its law. For provincials and Teuton 
peoples were mingling throughout the Frankish realm, and 
the first obvious solution of the legal problems arising was 
to hold that provincials and Teutons everywhere should 
remain amenable and entitled to their own law, which was 
assumed to attend them as a personal appurtenance. Of 
course this solution became intolerable as tribal blood and 
delimitations became obscure, and men moved about through 
the territories of one great realm. Archbishop Agobard of 
Lyons remarks that one might see five men sitting together, 
each amenable to a different law.^ The escape from this 
legal confusion was to revert to the idea of law and custom 
as applying to every one within a given territory. The 
personal principle gradually gave way to this conception in 
the course of the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries. ^ In 
the meanwhile during the Merovingian, and more potently 
in the Carolingian period, king's law, as distinguished from 
people's law, had been an influence making for legal uni- 
formity throughout that wide conglomerate empire which 
acknowledged the authority of the Frankish king or 
emperor. The king's law might emanate from the delegated 
authority, and arise from the practices, of royal functionaries ; 

^ " Ad versus Gundobadi legem," c. 4 (Mon. Germ, leges, iii. 504). As to 
Agobard see ante, Vol. I. p. 232. 

^ The matter is suggested here only in its general aspects. The detaUs present 
every kind of complication (for some purposes to-day a court will apply the law 
of the litigant's domicile). The professio {professus sum or professa sum), by 
which a man or woman formally declares by what law he or she lives, remained 
comjnon in Italy for five centuries after Pippin's conquest, and indicates the legal 
situation there, especially of the Teutonic newcomers. 


it was most formally promulgated in Capitularies, which with 
Chariemagne reach such volume and importance. Some of 
these royal ordinances related to a town or district only. 
Others were for the realm, and the latter not only were 
instances of law applying universally, but also tended to 
promote, or suggest, the harmonizing of laws which they did 
not modify directly. 


The Roman law always existed in the Middle Ages. 
Provincialized and changed, it was interwoven in the law 
and custom of the land of the langue d'oc and even in the 
customary law of the lands where the langue d'oil was 
spoken. Through the same territory it existed also in the 
Breviarium and its epitomes. There was very little of it 
in England, and scarcely a trace in the Germany east of the 
Rhine. In Italy it was applied when not superseded by the 
Lombard codes, and was drawn from works based on the 
Codex and Novels of Justinian. But the jurisprudential 
law contained in Justinian's Digest was as well forgotten in 
Italy as in any land north of the Alps, where the Codifica- 
tion of Justinian had never been promulgated. The extent 
to which the classic forms of Roman law were known or 
unknown, unforgotten or forgotten, was no accident as of 
codices or other writings lost accidentally. It hung upon 
larger conditions — whether society had reached that stage 
of civilized exigency demanding the application of an 
advanced commercial law, and whether there were men 
capable of understanding and appl5/ing it. This need and 
the capacity to understand would be closely joined.^ 

The history of the knowledge and imderstanding of 
Roman law in the Middle Ages might be resolved into a 
consideration of the sources drawn upon, and the extent and 
manner of their use, from century to century. In the fifth 
century, when the Theodosian Code was promulgated, law 
was thought of chiefly as the mandate of a ruler. The 

1 One sees an analogy in the fortunes of the Boethian translations of the 
more advanced treatises of Aristotle's Organon. They fell into disuse (or never 
came into use) and so were " lost " until they came to light, i.e. into use, in the 
last part of the twelfth century. But see ante, Vol. I. p. 92, note 2. 


Theodosian Code was composed of constitutiones principum. 
Likewise the Breviarium, based upon it, and other barbarian 
codes of Roman law, were ordained by kings ; and so were 
the codes of Teutonic law. For law, men looked directly 
to the visible ruler. The jus, reasoned out by the wisdom 
of trained jurists, had lost authority and interest. To be sure, 
a hundred years later Justinian's Commission put together 
in the Digest the body of jurisprudential law ; but even in 
Italy where his codification was promulgated, the Digest fell 
still-bom. Never was an official compilation of less effect 
upon its own time, or of such mighty import for times to 

The Breviarium became par excellence the code of Roman 
law for the countries included in the present France. With 
its accompanying Interpretatio it was a work indicating 
intelligence on the part of its compilers, whose chief care 
was as to arrangement and explanation. But the time was 
not progressive, and a gathering mental decadence was 
shown by the manner in which the Breviarium was treated 
and used, to wit, epitomized in many epitomes, and practi- 
cally superseded by them. Here was double evidence of 
decay ; for the supersession of such a work by such epitomes 
indicates a diminishing legal knowledge in the epitomizers, 
and also a narrowing of social and commercial needs in the 
community, for which the original work contained much that 
was no longer useful. 

There were, of course, epitomes and epitomes. Such a 
work as the Epitome Juliani, in which a good Byzantine 
lawyer of Justinian's time presented the substance of the 
Novellae, was an excellent compendium, and deserved the 
fame it won. Of a lower order were the later manipulations 
of Justinian's Codex, by which apparently the Codex was 
superseded in Italy. One of these was the Summa Perusina 
of the ninth or tenth century, a wretched work, and one of 
the blindest.^ 

Justinian's Codex and Julian's Epitome were equipped 
with glosses, some of which are as early as Justinian's time ; 
but the greater part are later. The glosses to Justinian's 
legislation resemble those of the Breviarium before referred 

^ See Conrat, Ges. der Quellen, pp. 182-187. 


to. That is to say, as the centuries pass downward toward 
the tenth, the glosses answer to cruder needs : they become 
largely translations of words, often taken from Isidore's 
Etymologiae} Indeed many of them appear to have had 
merely a grammatical interest, as if the text was used as an 
aid in the study of the Latin language. 

The last remark indicates a way in which a very super- 
ficial acquaintance with the Roman law was kept up through 
the centuries prior to the twelfth : it was commonly taught 
in the schools devoted to elementary instruction, that is to 
say, to the Seven Liberal Arts. In many instances the 
instructors had only such knowledge as they derived from 
Isidore, that friend of every man. That is, they had no 
special knowledge of law, but imparted various definitions to 
their pupils, just as they might teach them the names of 
diseases and remedies, a list of which (and nothing more) 
they would also find in Isidore. It was all just as one 
might have expected. Elementary mediaeval education was 
encyclopaedic in its childish way ; and, in accordance with 
the methods and traditions of the transition centuries, all 
branches of instruction were apt to be turned to grammar 
and rhetoric, and made linguistic, so to speak — mere subjects 
for curious definition. Thus it happened to law as well as 
medicine. Yet some of the teachers may have had a prac- 
tical acquaintance with legal matters, with an understanding 
for legal documents and skill to draw them up. 

The assertion also is warranted that at certain centres of 
learning substantial legal instruction was given ; one may 
even speak of schools of law. Scattered information touching 
all the early mediaeval periods shows that there was no time 
when instruction in Roman law could not be obtained some- 
where in western Europe. To refer to France, the Roman 
law was very early taught at Narbonne ; at Orleans it was 
taught from the time of Bishop Theodulphus, Charlemagne's 
contemporary, and probably the teaching of it long continued. 
One may speak in the same way of Lyons ; and in the 
eleventh century Angers was famed for the study of law. 

Our information is less broken as to an Italy, where 
through the early Middle Ages more general opportunities 

^ See Conrat, Ges. der Quellen, etc., pp. 162-166, 168-182, 192-202, 240-252. 


offered for elementary education, and where the Roman law, 
with Justinian's Codification as a base, made in general the 
law of the land. There is no reason to suppose that it was 
not taught. Contemporary allusions bear witness to the 
existence of a school of law in Rome in the time of Cassio- 
dorus and afterwards, which is confirmed by a statement of 
the jurist Odofredus in the thirteenth century. At Pavia 
there was a school of law in the time of Rothari, the legislat- 
ing Lombard king ; this reached the zenith of its repute in 
the eleventh century. Legal studies also flourished at 
Ravenna, and succumbed before the rising star of the 
Bologna school at the beginning of the twelfth century.^ 
In these and doubtless many other cities,^ students were 
instructed in legal practices and formulae, and some substance 
of the Roman law was taught. Extant legal documents of 
various kinds afford, especially for Italy, ample evidence of 
the continuous application of the Roman law.^ 
'; .t'As for the merits and deficiencies of legal instruction in 
Italy and in France, an idea may be gained from the various 
manuals that were prepared either for use in the schools of 
law or for the practitioner. Because of the uncertainty, 
however, of their age and provenance, it is difficult to connect 
them with a definite foyer of instruction. 

Until the opening of the twelfth century, or at all events 
until the last quarter of the eleventh, the legal literature 
evinces scarcely any originality or critical capacity. There 
are glosses, epitomes, and collections of extracts, more or 
less condensed or confused from whatever text the compiler 
had before him. Little jurisprudential intelligence appears 
in any writings which are known to precede the close of the 
eleventh century ; none, for instance, in the epitomes of the 
Breviarium and the glosses relating to that code ; none in 

1 See Salvioli, Storia di diritto italiano, 3rd ed., 1899, pp. 84-go ; ibid. 
L'Istruzione pubblica in Italia nei secoli VIII. IX. X. ; Taxdif, Hist, des sources 
du droit frangais, p. 281 sqq. ; Savigny, Geschichte, etc., iv. pp. 1-9 ; Fitting, 
" Zur Geschichte der Rechtswissenschaft im Mittelalter," Zeitschriftfiir Rges. Sav. 
Stift., Roman. Ahteil., Bd. vi., 1885, pp. 94-186 ; ibid. Juristische Schriften des 
frilheren Mittelalters, 108 sqq. (Halle, 1876). 

^ A contemporary notice speaks of the enormous number of judges, lawyers, 
and notaries in Milan about the year 1000. Salvioli, L'Istruzione pubblica, etc., 
p. 78. It is hard to imagine that no legal instruction could be had there. 

^ The evidence is gathered in different parts of Savigny's Geschichte. 


those works of Italian origin the material for which was 
drawn directly or indirectly from the Codex or Novels of 
Justinian, for instance the Summa Perusina and the Lex 
Romana canonice compta, both of which probably belong to 
the ninth century. Such compilations were put together 
for practical use, or perhaps as aids to teaching. 

Thus, so far as inference may be drawn from the extant 
writings, the legal teaching in any school during this long 
period hardly rose above an uncritical and unenlightened 
explanation of Roman law somewhat mediaevalized and 
deflected from its classic form and substance. There was 
also practical instruction in current legal forms and customs. 
Interest in the law had not risen above practical needs, nor 
was capacity shown for anything above a mechanical handling 
of the matter. Legal study was on a level with the other 
intellectual phenomena of the period. 

In an opusculum ^ written shortly after the middle of the 
eleventh century, Peter Damiani bears unequivocal, if some- 
what hostile, witness to the study of law at Ravenna ; and it 
is clear that in his time legal studies were progressing in 
both France and Italy. It is unsafe to speak more definitely, 
because of the difficulty in fixing the time and place of 
certain rather famous pieces of legal literature, which show a 
marked advance upon the productions to be ascribed with 
certainty to an earlier time. The reference is to the Petri 
exceptiones and the Brachylogus. The critical questions relat- 
ing to the former are too complex even to outline here. 
Both its time and place are in dispute. The ascribed dates 
range from the third quarter of the eleventh century to the 
first quarter of the twelfth, a matter of importance, since the 
opening of the twelfth century is marked by the rise of the 
Bologna school. As for the place, some scholars still adhere 
to the south of France, while others look to Pavia or 
Ravenna. On the whole, the weight of argument seems to 
favour Italy and a date not far from 1075.2 

The Petrus, as it is familiarly called, is drawn from 

^ De parentelae gradibus, see Savigny, Geschichte, Bd. iv. p. i sqq. 

" See Savigny, Geschichte, Bd. ii. pp. 134-163 (the text is published in an 
Appendix to that volume, pp. 321-428) ; Conrat, Ges. der Quellen, etc., pp. 420- 
549 ; Tardif, Hist, des sources du droit f ran fais, pp. 213-246. 


immediately prior and still extant compilations. The 
compiler wished to give a compendious if not systematic 
presentation of law as accepted and approved in his time, 
that is to say, of Roman law somewhat mediaevalized in tone, 
and with certain extraneous elements from the Lombard 
codes. The ultimate Roman sources were the Codification 
of Justinian, and indeed all of it, Digest, Codex, and Novels, 
the last in the form to which they had been brought in 
Julian's Epitome. The purpose of the compilation is given 
in the Prologue,^ which in substance is as follows : 

" Since for many divers reasons, on account of the great and 
manifold difficulties in the laws, even the Doctors of the laws 
cannot without pains reach a certain opinion, we, taking account 
of both laws, to wit, the jus civile and the jus naturale, unfold the 
solution of controversies under plain and patent heads. What- 
ever is found in the laws that is useless, void, or contrary to equity, 
we trample under our feet. Whatever has been added and surely 
held to, we set forth in its integral meaning so that nothing may 
appear unjust or provocative of appeal from thy judgments, 
Odilo ; 2 but all may make for the vigour of justice and the praise 
of God." 

The arrangement of topics in the Petrus hardly evinces 
any clear design. The substance, however, is well presented. 
If there be a question to be solved, it is plainly stated, and 
the solution arrived at may be interesting. For example, a 
case seems to have arisen where the son of one who died 
intestate had seized the whole property to the exclusion 
of the children of two deceased daughters. The sons of 
one daughter acquiesced. The sons of the other per placitum 
et guerram forced their uncle to give up their share. 
Thereupon the supine cousins demanded to share in what 
had so been won. The former contestants resisted on the 
plea that the latter had borne no aid in the contest and that 
they had obtained only their own portion. The decision 
was that the supine cousins might claim their heritage from 
whoever held it, and should receive their share in what the 

^ This follows the so-called Tubingen MSS., the largest immediate source of 
the Petrus. As well-nigh the entire substance of the Petrus is drawn from the 
immediately prior compilations (which are still unpublished) its characteristics are 
really theirs. 

^ Apparently the chief magistrate of Valence : " Valentinae civitatis magistro 


successful contestants had won ; but that the latter could 
by counter-actions compel them to pay their share of the 
necessary expenses of the prior contest. ^ 

Sometimes the Pefrus seems to draw a general rule of 
law from the apparent instances of its application in 
Justinian's Codification. Therein certain formalities were 
prescribed in making a testament, in adopting a son, or 
emancipating a slave. The Petrus draws from them the 
general principle that where the law prescribes formalities, 
the transaction is not valid if they are omitted. ^ In fine, 
unsystematized as is its arrangement of topics, the work 
presents an advance in legal intelligence over mediaeval law- 
writings earlier than the middle of the eleventh century. 

If the Petrus was adapted for use in practice, the 
Brachylogus, on the other hand, was plainly a book of 
elementary instruction, formed on the model of Justinian's 
Institutes. But it made use of his entire codification, the 
Novels, however, only as condensed in Julian's Epitome. 
The influence of the Breviarium is also noticeable ; which 
might lead one to think that the treatise was written in 
Orleans or the neighbourhood, since the Breviarium was 
not in use in Italy, while the Codification of Justinian was 
known in France by the end of the eleventh century. The 
beginning of the twelfth is the date usually given to the 
Brachylogus. It does not belong to the Bologna school of 
glossators, but rather immediately precedes them, wherever 
it was composed.^ 

The Brachylogus, as a book of Institutes, compares 
favourably with its model, from the language of which it 
departed at will. Both works are divided into four lihri ; 
but the lihri of the Brachylogus correspond better to the 
logical divisions of the law. Again, frequently the author 
of the Brachylogus breaks up the chapters of Justinian's 
Institutes and gives the subject-matter under more pertinent 
headings. Sometimes the statements of the older work 
are improved by rearrangement. The definitions of the 

^ Petri exceptiones , iii. 69. ^ Petrus, i. 66. 

^ See Conrat, Ges. der Quellen, etc., 550-582 ; Tardif, Hist, des sources, etc., 
pp. 207-213 ; Fitting, ZeitschriftfUr Rges. Bd. vi. p. 141. It is edited by Becking 
(Berlin, 1829) under the title of Corpus legum sive Brachylogus juris civilis. 


Brachylogus are pithy and concise, even to a fault. Often 
the exposition is well adapted to the purposes of an 
elementary text-book,^ which was meant to be supplemented 
by oral instruction. On the whole, the work shows that 
the author is no longer encumbered by the mass or by 
the advanced character of his sources. He restates their 
substance intelligently, and thinks for himself. He is no 
compiler, and his work has reached the rank of a treatise. 

The merits of the Brachylogus as an elementary text- 
book are surpassed by those of the so-called Summa Codicis 
Irnerii, a book which may mark the beginning of the 
Bologna school of law, and may even be the composition of 
its founder. Many arguments are adduced for this author- 
ship. ^ The book has otherwise been deemed a production 
of the last days of the school of law at Rome just before the 
school was broken up by some catastrophe as to which there 
is little information. In that case the work would belong 
to the closing years of the eleventh century, whereas the 
authorship of Imerius would bring it to the beginning of the 
twelfth. At all events, its lucid jurisprudential reasoning 
precludes the likelihood of an earlier origin. 

This Summa is an exposition of Roman law, following 
the arrangement and titles of Justinian's Codex, but making 
extensive use of the Digest. It thus contains Roman juris- 
prudential law, and may be regarded as a compendious text- 
book for law students, forming apparently the basis of a 
course of lectures which treated the topics more at length.^ 
The author's command of his material is admirable, and his 
presentation masterly. Whether he was Irnerius or some 
one else, he was a great teacher. His work may be also 
called academic, in that his standpoint is always that of the 
Justinianean law, although he limits his exposition to those 
topics which had living interest for the twelfth century. 
Private substantial law forms the chief matter, but procedure 
is set forth and penal law touched upon. The author 

1 For instance, Brack, ii. 12, " De juris et facti ignorantia," is short and clear. 
It follows mainly Digest xxii. 6. 

^ Summa Codicis des Irnerius, ed. by Fitting (Berlin, 1894). See Introduction, 
and also Fitting in Zeitschrift fUr Rechtsgeschichte, Bd. xvii. (1896), Romanische 
Abteilung, pp. 1-96. 

^ Cf. Summa Codicis Irnerii, vii. 23, and vii. 31. i. 


appreciates the historical development of the Roman law 
and the character of its various sources — praetorian law, 
constitutiones principum, and responsa prudentium. He also 
shows independence, and a regard for legal reasoning and 
the demands of justice. While he sets forth the jus civile, 
his exposition and approval follow the dictates of the jus 

" The established laws are to be understood benignly, so as to 
preserve their spirit, and prevent their departure from equity ; 
for the Judge recognizes ordainments as legitimate when they 
conform to the principles of justice {ratio equitatis). . . . Inter- 
pretation is sometimes general and imperative, as when the law- 
giver declares it : then it must be applied not only to the matter 
for which it is announced, but in all like cases. Sometimes an 
interpretation is imperative, but only for the special case, like 
the interpretation which is declared by those adjudicating a 
cause. It is then to be accepted in that cause, but not in like 
instances ; for not by precedents, but by the laws are matters to 
be adjusted. There is another kind of interpretation which binds 
no one, that made by teachers explaining an ambiguous law, for 
although it may be admissible because sound, stiU it compels no 
one. For every interpretation should so be made as not to depart 
from justice, and that all absurdity may be avoided and no door 
opened to fraud." ^ 

One must suppose that such concise statements were 
explained and qualified in the author's lectures. But even 
as they stand, they afford an exposition of Roman principles 
of interpretation. Not only under the Roman Empire, but 
subsequently in mediaeval times, the Roman lawyer or the 
canonist did not pay the deference to adjudicated precedent 
which is felt by the English or American judge. The 
passage in the Codex which " Imerius " was expounding 
commands that the judge, in deciding a case, shall follow 
the laws and the reasoning of the great jurists, rather than 
the decision of a like controversy. 

Since the author of this Summa weighs the justice, the 
reason, and the convenience of the laws, and compares them 
with each other, his book is a work of jurisprudence. Its 
qualities may be observed in its discussion of possession and 
the rights arising therefrom. The writer has just been 

1 Summa Codicis Irnerii, i. 14. The corresponding passages in Justinian's 
Codification are Dig. i. 3, lex 12 and 38, and Codex vii. 45, lex 13. 


expounding the usucapio, an institution of the jus civile 
strictly speaking, whereby the law of Rome in certain 
instances protected and, after three years, perfected, the title 
to property which one had in good faith acquired from a 
vendor who was not the owner : 

" Now we must discuss the ratio possessionis. Usucapio in the 
jus civile hinges on possession, and ownership by the jus naturale 
may take its origin in possession. There are many differences 
in the ways of acquiring possession, which must be considered. 
And since in the constitutiones and responsa prudentium divers 
reasons are adduced regarding possession, my associates have 
begged that I would expound this important and obscure subject 
in which is mingled the ratio both of the civil and the natural 
law. So I will do my best. First one must consider what 
possession is, how it is acquired, maintained, or lost. Possession 
(here the author foUows Paulus and Labeo in the Digest) is as 
when one's feet are set upon a thing, when body naturally rests 
on body. To acquire possession is to begin to possess. Herein 
one considers both the fact and the right. The fact arises through 
ourselves or our representative. It is understood differently as 
to movables and as to land ; for the movable we take in our hand, 
but we take possession of a farm by going upon it with this intent 
and laying hold of a sod. The intent to possess is crucial. Thus 
a ring put in the hand of a sleeper is not possessed for lack of 
intent on his part. You possess naturally when with mind and 
body (yours or another's who represents you) you hold or sit 
upon with intent to possess. Corporeal things you properly 
possess, and acquire possession of, by your own or your agent's 
hand. In the same manner you retain. Incorporeal things 
cannot be possessed properly speaking, but the civil law accords 
a quasi possession of them." 

Then follows a discussion of the persons through whom 
another may have possession, and of the various modes of 
possessing longa manu without actual touch : 

"It is one thing when the possession begins with you, and 
another when it is transferred to you by a prior possessor : for 
possession begins in three ways, by occupation, accession, and 
transfer. You occupy the thing that belongs to no one. By 
accession you acquire possession in two ways. Thus the incre- 
ment may be possessed, as the fruit of thy handmaid ; or the 
accession consists in the union with a larger thing which is yours, 
as when alluvium is deposited on your land. Again possession 
is transferred to you," 


voluntarily or otherwise. He now discusses the various 
modes in which possession is acquired by transfer, then the 
nature of the justa or injusta causa with which possession 
may begin, and the effect on the rights of the possessor, and 
then some matters more peculiar to the time of Justinian. 
After which he passes to the loss of possession, and concludes 
with saying that he has endeavoured to go over the whole 
subject, and whatever is omitted or insufficiently treated, he 
begs that it be laid to the fault of humanae imhecillitatis. 
The discussion reads like a carefully drawn outline which his 
lecture should expand.^ 

The knowledge and understanding of the Roman law in 
the mediaeval centuries should be viewed in conjunction with 
the general progress of intellectual aptitude during the same 
periods. The growth of legal knowledge will then show 
itself as a part of mediaeval development, as one phase 
of the flowering of the mediaeval intellect. For the treat- 
ment of Roman law presents stages essentially analogous to 
those by which the Middle Ages reached their imderstand- 
ing and appropriation of other portions of their great 
inheritance from classical antiquity and the Christianity of 
the Fathers. Let us recapitulate : the Roman law, adapted, 
or corrupted if one will, epitomized and known chiefly in its 
later enacted forms, was never unapplied nor the study of it 
quite abandoned. It constituted a great part of the law of 
Italy and southern France ; in these two regions likewise 
was its study least neglected. We have observed the super- 
ficial and mainly linguistic nature of the glosses which this 
early mediaeval period interlined or wrote on the margins of 
the source-books drawn upon, also the rude and barbarous 
nature of the earlier summaries and compilations. They 
were helps to a crude practical knowledge of the law. 
Gradually the treatment seems to become more intelligent, a 
little nearer the level of the matter excerpted or made use 
of. Through the eleventh century it is evident that social 
conditions were demanding and also facilitating an increase 
in legal knowledge ; and at that century's close a by no 
means stupid compilation appears, the Petri exceptiones, and 

1 Summa Codicis Irnerii, vii. 22 and 23. The chief Justinianean sources are 
Dig. xli. 2, and Cod. xii. 32. 


perhaps such a fairly inteUigent manual for elementary 
instruction as the Brachylogus. These works indicate that 
the instruction in the law was improving. We have also 
the sparse references to schools of law, at Rome, at Ravenna, 
at Orleans. Then we come upon the Summa Codicis called 
of Imerius, of uncertain provenance, like the Petrus and 
Brachylogus. But there is no need to be informed specifically 
of its place and date in order to recognize its advance in 
legal intelligence, in veritable jurisprudence. The writer was 
a master of the law, an adept in its exposition, and his oral 
teaching must have been of a high order. With this book 
we have unquestionably touched the level of the strong be- 
ginnings of the greatest of mediaeval schools of Roman law. 

Its seat was Bologna, one of the chief centres of the 
civic and commercial life of Lombardy. The Lombards 
themselves had shown a persistent legal genius : their own 
Teutonic codes, enacted in Italy, had maintained themselves 
in that land of Roman law and custom. Lombard codifica- 
tion had almost reached a jurisprudence of its own, at Pavia, 
the juridical centre of Lombardy. The provisions of various 
codes had been compared and put together in a sort of 
Concordia, as early as the ninth century.^ Possibly the 
rivalry of Lombard law might stimulate those learned in the 
law of Rome to sharper efforts to expound it and prove its 
superiority. Moreover, all sides of civic life and culture were 
flourishing in that region where novel commercial relations 
were calling for a corresponding progress in the law, and 
especially for a better knowledge of the Roman law which 
alone afforded provision for their regulation. 

As some long course of human development approaches 
its climax, the advance apparently becomes so rapid as to 
give the impression of something suddenly happening, a 
sudden leap upward of the human spirit. The velocity of 
the movement seems to quicken as the summit is neared. 
One easily finds examples, for instance, the fifth century 
before Christ in Greek art, or the fourth century in Greek 
philosophy, or again the excellence so quickly reached 
apparently by the Middle High German poetry just about 

^ See Salvioli, Manuale, etc., pp. 65-68 ; ibid. U Istruzione pubblica in Italia, 
pp. 72-75 ; Brunner, Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte, i. p. 387 sqq. 


the year 1200. But may not the seeming suddenness of 
the phenomenon be due to lack of information as to 
antecedents ? and the flare of the final achievement even 
darken what went before ? Yet, in fact, as a movement 
nears its climax, it may become more rapid. For, as the 
promoting energies and favouring conditions meet in con- 
junction, their joint action becomes more effective. Forces 
free themselves from cumbrances and draw aid from one 
another. Thus when the gradual growth of intellectual 
faculty effects a conjunction with circumstances which offer 
a fair field, and the prizes of life as a reward, a rapid increase 
of power may evince itself in novel and timely productivity. 

This may suggest the manner of the apparently sudden 
rise of the Bologna school of Roman law, which, be it noted, 
took place but a little before the time of Gratian's achieve- 
ment in the Canon law, itself contemporaneous with the 
appearance of Peter Lombard's novel Books of Sentences} 
The preparation, although obscure, existed ; and the school 
after its commencement passed onward through stages of 
development, to its best accomplishment, and then into a 
condition of stasis, if not decline. Imerius apparently was 
its first master ; and of his life little is known. He was a 
native of Bologna. His name as causidicus is attached to a 
State paper of the year 11 13. Thereafter he appears in the 
service of the German emperor, Henry V. We have no 
sure trace of him after 1118, though there is no reason to 
suppose that he did not live and labour for some further 
years. He had taught the Arts at Ravenna and Bologna 
before teaching, or perhaps seriously studying, the law. But 
his career as a teacher of the law doubtless began before the 
year 1113, when he is first met with as a man of affairs. 
Accounts agree in ascribing to him the foundation of the 

Unless the Summa Codicis already mentioned, and a book 
of Quaestiones, be really his, his glosses upon Justinian's 
Digest, Codex, and Novels, are all we have of him ; ^ of the 

1 Post, Chapter XXXVI., i. 

^ The Bologna school is commonly called the school of the glossators. Their 
work was to expound the law of Justinian ; and their glosses, or explanatory 
notes, were the part of their writings which had the most permanent influence. 


rest we know by report. The glosses themselves indicate 
that this jurist had been a grammarian, and used the 
learning of his former profession in his exposition of the law. 
His interlinear glosses are explanations of words, and would 
seem to represent his earlier, more tentative, work when he 
was himself learning the meaning of the law. But the 
marginal glosses are short expositions of the passages to 
which they are attached, and perhaps belong to the time of 
his fuller command over the legal material. They indicate, 
besides, a critical consideration of the text, and even of the 
original connection which the passage in the Digest held in 
the work of the jurisconsult from which it had been taken. 
Some of them show an understanding of the chronological 
sequence of the sources of the Roman law, e.g. that the law- 
making power had existed in the people and then passed to 
the emperors. These glosses of Imerius represent a clear 
advance in jurispnidence over any previous legal comment 
subsequent to the Interpretatio attached to the Breviarium. 
It was also part of his plan to equip his manuscripts of the 
Codex with extracts taken from the text of the Novels, and 
not from the Epitome of Julian. He appears also as a 
lawyer versed in the practice of the law. For he wrote a 
book of forms for notaries and a treatise on procedure, 
neither of which is extant.^ 

The accomplishment of the Bologna school may be 
judged more fully from the works, still extant, of some of its 
chief representatives in the generations following Imerius. 
A worthy one was Placentinus, a native of Piacenza. The 
year of his birth is imknown, but he died in 1192, after a 
presumably full span of life, passed chiefly as a student and 
teacher of the law. He taught in Mantua and MontpeUier, 
as well as in Bologna. He was an accomplished jurist and 
a lover of the classic literature. His work entitled De 
varietate actionum was apparently the first attempt to set 

The glosses were originally written between the lines or on the margins of the 
codices of the Digest, Codex, Novels, and Institutes. 

^ Savigny gives examples of Irnerius's glosses in an appendix to the fourth 
volume of his Geschichte. Pescatore {Die Glossen des Irneriiis, Greifswald, 1888) 
maintains that Savigny overstates the difference between the interlinear and 
the marginal glosses of Irnerius. 


forth the Roman law in an arrangement and form that did 
not follow the sources.^ He opens his treatise with an 
allegory of a noble dame, named Jurisprudentia, within the 
circle of whose sweet and honied utterances many eager 
youths were thronging. Placentinus drew near, and received 
from her the book which he now gives to others.^ This little 
allegory savours of the De consolatione of Boethius, or, if one 
will, of Capella's De nuptiis Philologiae. 

The most admirable surviving work of Placentinus is his 
Summa of the Codex of Justinian. His autobiographical 
proemium shows him not lacking in self-esteem, and tells 
why he undertook the work. He had thought at first to 
complete the Summa of Rogerius, an older glossator, but 
then decided to put that book to sleep, and compose a full 
Summa of the Codex himself, from the beginning to the end. 
This by the favour of God he has done ; it is the work of 
his own hands, from head to heel, and all the matter is his 
own — ^not borrowed. Next he wrote for beginners a Summa 
of the Institutes. After which he returned to his own town, 
and shortly proceeded thence to Bologna, whither he had 
been called. " There in the citadel {in castello) for two 
years I expounded the laws to students ; I brought the 
other teachers to the threshold of envy ; I emptied their 
benches of students. The hidden places of the law I laid 
open, I reconciled the conflicts of enactments, I unlocked 
the secrets most potently." His success was great, and he 
was besought to continue his course of lectures. He 
complied, and remained two years more, and then returned 
to Montpellier, in order to compose a Summa of the Digest.^ 
If indeed Placentinus speaks bombastically of his work, its 
excellence excuses him. His well-earned reputation as a 
jurist and scholar long endured. 

Quaestiones, Distinctiones, Libri disputationum, Summae of 
the Codex or the Institutions, and other legal writings, are 
extant in goodly bulk and number from the Bologna school. 
The names of the men are almost legion, and many were of 

1 On Placentinus see Savigny, Geschichte, iv. pp. 244-285. 

^ Proemium to De var. acUonum, given by Savigny, iv. p. 540. 

^ This is from the proemium attached to one old edition, and is given in Sav. 
Ges. iv. p. 245. In an appendix, p. 542, Savigny gives an even more florid 
proemium to the Summa Codicis from a manuscript. 


great repute in their day both as jurists and as men of 
affairs. We may mention Azo and Accursius, of a little 
later time. Azo's name appears in public documents from 
the year 1190 to 1220 — and he may have survived the 
latter date by some years. His works were of such compass 
and excellence as to supersede those of his predecessors. 
His glosses still survive, and his Lectura on the Codex, his 
Summae of the Codex and the Institutes, and his Quaestiones, 
and Brocarda, the last a sort of work stating general legal 
propositions and those contradicting them. Azo's glosses 
were so complete as to constitute a continuous exposition of 
the entire legislation of Justinian. His Summae of the 
Codex and Institutes drove those of Placentinus out of use, 
which we note with a smile.^ 

None of the glossators is better known than Accursius. 
He comes before us as a Florentine, and apparently a 
peasant's son. He died an old man rich and famous, about 
the year 1260. Azo was his teacher. In 1252 he was 
Podesta of Bologna, which indicates the respect in which 
men held him. Villani, the Florentine historian, describes 
him as of martial form, grave, thoughtful, even melancholy in 
aspect, as if always meditating ; a man of brilliant talents 
and extraordinary memory, sober and chaste in life, but 
delighting in noble vesture. His hearers drank in the laws 
of living from his mien and manners no less than from 
the dissertations of his mouth. ^ Late in life he retired to his 
villa, and there in quiet worked on his great Glossa tUl he 

This famous, perhaps all too famous, Glossa ordinaria 
was a digest and, as it proved, a final one, of the glosses 
of his predecessors and contemporaries. He drew not only 
from their glosses, but also on their Summae and other 
writings. He added a good deal of his own. Great as 
was the feat, the somewhat deadened talent of a compiler 
shows in the result, which flattened out the individual 
labours of so many jurists. It came at once into general 
use in the courts and outside of them ; for it was a complete 
commentary on the Justinianean law, so compendious and 

1 On Azo see Savigny, Ges. v. pp. 1-44. 
^ Quoted by Savigny. On Accursius see Sav. Ges. v. pp. 262-305. 


convenient that there was no further need of the glosses of 
earHer men. This book marked the turning-point of the 
Bologna school, after which its productivity lessened. Its 
work was done : Codex, Novels, and above all the Pandects 
were rescued from oblivion, and fully expovmded, so far 
as the matter in them was still of interest. When the 
labours of the school had been conveniently heaped together 
in one huge Glossa, there was no vital inducement to 
do this work again. The school of the glossators was 
functus officio. Naturally with the lessening of the call, 
productivity diminished. Little was left to do save to 
gloss the glosses, an epigonic labour which would not attract 
men of talent. Moreover, treating the older glosses, instead 
of the original text, as the matter to be interpreted was 
unfavourable to progress in the understanding of the latter. 

Yet, for a little, the breath of life was still to stir in 
the school of the glossators. There was a man of fame, 
a humanist indeed, named Cino, whose beautiful tomb still 
draws the lover of things lovely to Pistoia. Cino was also 
a jurist, and it came to him to be the teacher of one whose 
name is second to none among the legists of the Middle 
Ages. This was Bartolus, bom probably in the year 13 14 
at Sassoferrato in the duchy of Urbino. He was a scholar, 
learned in geometry and Hebrew, also a man of affairs. 
He taught the law at Pisa and Perugia, and in the last- 
named town he died in 1357, not yet forty-four years old. 
Bartolus wrote and compiled full commentaries on the 
entire Corpus juris civilis ; and yet he produced no work 
differing in kind from works of his predecessors. Moreover, 
between him and the body of the law rose the great mass 
of gloss and comment already in existence, through which 
he did not always penetrate to the veritable Corpus. Yet 
his labours were inspired with the energy of a vigorous 
nature, and he put fresh thoughts into his commentaries.^ 

The school of glossators presented the full Roman law 
to Europe. The careful and critical interpretation of the 
text of Justinian's Codification, of the Digest above all, was 
their great service. In performing it, these jurists also had 
educated themselves and developed their own intelligence. 

^ On Bartolus see Savigny, Ges. etc. vi. pp. 137-184. 


They had also put together in Summae the results of their 
own education in the law. These works facilitated legal 
study and sharpened the faculties of students and professors. 
Books of Quaestiones, legal disputations, works upon legal 
process and formulae, served the same ends.^ These men 
were deficient in historical knowledge. Yet they compared 
Digest, Codex, and Novels ; they tried to re-establish the 
purity of the text ; they weighed and they expounded. 
Theirs was an intellectual effort to master the jurisprudence 
of Rome : their labours constituted a renaissance of juris- 
prudence ; and the fact that they were often men of affairs 
as well as professors, kept them from ignoring the practical 
bearings of the matters which they taught. 

The work of the glossators may be compared with that 
of the theologian philosophers of the thirteenth century — 
Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas — 
who were winning for the world a new and comprehensive 
knowledge of Aristotle. Both jurists and philosophers, in 
their different spheres, carried through a more profound 
study, and reached a more comprehensive knowledge, of a 
great store of antique thought, than previous mediaeval 
centuries conceived of. Moreover, the interpretation of 
the Corpus juris was quite as successful as the interpreta- 
tion of Aristotle. It was in fact surer, because freer from 
the deflections of religious motive. No consideration of 
agreement or disagreement with Scripture troubled the 
glossators' interpretation of the Digest, though indeed they 
may have been interested in finding support for whatever 
political views they held upon the claims of emperor and 
pope. But this did not disturb them as much as Aristotle's 
opinion that the universe was eternal, worried Albertus and 


The Church, from the time of its first recognition by the 
Roman Empire, lived under the Roman law ; ^ and the 

^ Cf. Savigny, Ges. v. pp. 222-261. Prof. Vinogradoff's admirable Roman 
Law in Mediaeval Europe (Harpers, 1909), is packed with illuminating information. 

^ " Ecclesia vivit lege Romana," Lex Ribuaria, 58. This was vmiversally 
recognized, although the individual clericus might remain amenable to the law of 
his birth. 


constitutions safeguarding its authority were large and 
ample before the Empire fell. Constantine, to be sure, 
never dreamed of the famous " Donation of Constantine " 
forged by a later time, yet his enactments fairly launched 
the great mediaeval Catholic Chiurch upon the career which 
was to bring it more domination than was granted in this 
pseudo-charter of its power. A mmiber of Constantine's 
enactments were preserved by the Theodosian Code, in 
which the powers and privileges of Chmrch and clergy were 
portentously set forth. 

The Theodosian Code freed the property of the Church 
from most fiscal biurdens, and the clergy from taxes, from 
public and military service, and from many other obligations 
which sometimes the Code groups under the head of sordida 
munera. The Church might receive all manner of bequests, 
and it inherited the property of such of its clergy as did 
not leave near relatives surviving them. Its property 
generally was inalienable ; and the clergy were accorded 
many special safeguards. Slaves might be manumitted in 
a church. The church edifices were declared asylums of 
refuge from pursuers, a. privilege which had passed to the 
churches from the heathen fanes and the statues of the 
emperors. Constitution after constitution was hurled 
against the Church's enemies. The Theodosian Code has 
one chapter containing sixty -six constitutions directed 
against heretics, the combined result of which was to 
deprive them, if not of life and property, at least of protected 
legal existence. 

Of enormous import was the sweeping recognition on 
the Empire's part of the validity of episcopal jurisdiction. 
No bishop might be summoned before a secular court as a 
defendant, or compelled to give testimony. Falsely to 
accuse one of the clergy rendered the accuser infamous. 
All matters pertaining to religion and church discipline 
might be brought only before the bishop's court, which 
likewise had plenary jurisdiction over controversies among 
the clergy. It was also open to the laity for the settlement 
of civil disputes. The command not to go to law before 
the heathen came down from Paul (i Cor. vi.), and together 
with the severed and persecuted condition of the early 


Christian communities, may be regarded as the far source 
of the episcopal jurisdiction, which thus divinely sanctioned 
tended to extend its arbitrament to all manner of legal 
controversies.^ To be sure, under the Christian Roman 
Empire the authority of the Church as well as its privileges 
rested upon imperial law. Yet the emperors recognized, 
rather than actually created, the ecclesiastical authority. 
And when the Empire was shattered, there stood the Church 
erect amid the downfall of the imperial government, and 
capable of supporting itself in the new Teutonic kingdoms. 

The constitutions of Christian emperors did not from 
their own force and validity become Ecclesiastical or Canon 
law — the law relating to Christians as such, and especially 
to the Church and its functions. The source of that law 
was God ; the Church was its declarative organ. Accept- 
ance on the Church's part was requisite before any secular 
law could become a law of the Church. 

Canon law may be taken to include theology, or may 
be limited to the law of the organization and functions of 
the Church taken in a large sense as inclusive of the laity 
in their relations to the religion of Christ.^ Obviously 
part comes from Christ directly, through the Old Testament 
as well as New. The other part, and in bulk far greater, 
emanates from His foimdation, the Church, under the guid- 
ance of His Spirit, and may be added to and modified by 
the Church from age to age. It is expressed in custom, 
universal and established, and it is found in written form 
in the works of the Fathers, in the decrees of Councils, in 
the decretals of the popes, and in the concordats and conven- 
tions with secular sovereignties. From the beginning, canon 
law tacitly or expressly adopted the constitutions of the 
Christian emperors relating to the Church, as well as the 
Roman law generally, under which the Church lived in its 
civil relations. 

The Church arose within the Roman Empire, and who 

^ For these matters see primarily the sixteenth book of the Theodosian Code, 
and book i. chap. 27. Also the suspected Constitutiones Sirmondianae attached 
to that Code. Justinian's Codex and Novellae add much. Zorn, in his Kirchen- 
recht, p. 29 sqq., gives a convenient synopsis of the matter. 

* One observes that the opening chapter of Justinian's Digest speaks of juris- 
prudentia as knowledge of divine as well as human matters. 


shall say that its wonderfully efficient and complete organiza- 
tion at the close of the patristic period was not the final 
creation of the legal and constructive genius of Rome, 
newly inspired by the spirit of Christianity ? But the 
centre of interest had been transferred from earth to heaven, 
and human aims had been recast by the Gospel and the 
understanding of it reached by Christian doctors. Evidently 
since the ideals of the Church were to be other than those 
of the Roman Empire, the law which it accepted or evolved 
would have ideals different from those of the Roman law. 
If the great Roman jurists created a legal formulation and 
rendering of justice adequate for the highly developed social 
and commercial needs of Roman citizens, the law of the 
Church, while it might borrow phrases, rules, and even 
general principles, from that system, could not fail to put 
new meaning in them. For example, the constant will to 
render each his due, which was justitia in the Roman law, 
might involve different considerations where the soul's 
salvation, and not the just allotment of the goods of this 
world, was the law's chief aim. Again, what new meaning 
might attach to the honeste vivere and the alterum non 
laedere of pagan legal ethics. Honeste vivere might mean 
to do no sin imperilling the soul ; alterum non laedere would 
acquire the meaning of doing nothing to another which 
might impede his progress toward salvation. Injuries to a 
man in his temporalities were less important. 

Further, Christianity although conceived as a religion 
for all mankind, was founded on a definite code and revela- 
tion. The primary statement was contained in the canoni- 
cal books of the Old and New Testaments. These were 
for all men, universal in application and of irrefragable 
validity and truth. Here was some correspondence to the 
conception of the jus gentium as representative of imiversal 
principles of justice and expediency, and therefore as equiva- 
lent to the jus naturale. There was something of logical 
necessity in the transference of this conception to the law 
of Christ. Says Gratian at the beginning of his Decretum : 
"It is jus naturae which is contained in the Law and the 
Gospel, by which every one is commanded to do to another 
as he would be done by, and forbidden to inflict on him 


what he does not wish to happen to himself." Since the 
Law and the Gospel represent the final law of life for all 
men, they are par excellence the jus naturae, as well as lex 
divina. Gratian quotes from Augustine : " Divinum jus in 
scripturis divinis habemus, humanum in legibus regum." ^ 
And then adds : " By its authority the jus naturale prevails 
over custom and constitution. Whatever in customs or 
writings is contrary to the jus naturale is to be held vain 
and invalid." Again he says more explicitly : " Since 
therefore nothing is commanded by natural law other than 
what God wills to be, and nothing is forbidden except what 
God prohibits, and since nothing may be found in the 
canonical Scripture except what is in the divine laws, the 
laws will rest divinely in nature {divine leges natura con- 
sistent). It is evident, that whatever is proved to be 
contrary to the divine will or canonical Scripture, is like- 
wise opposed to natural law. Wherefore whatever should 
give way before divine will or Scripture or the divine laws, 
over that ought the jus naturale to prevail. Therefore 
whatever ecclesiastical or secular constitutions are contrary 
to natural law are to be shut out." ^ 

The canon law is a vast sea. Its growth, its age-long 
agglomerate accretion, the systematization of its huge 
contents, have long been subjects for controversialists and 
scholars. Its sources were as multifarious as those of the 
Roman law. First the Scriptures and the early quasi- 
apostolic and pseudo-apostolic writings ; then the traditions 
of primitive Christianity and also the writings of the Fathers ; 
likewise ecclesiastical customs, long accepted and legitimate, 
and finally the two great written sources, the decretals or 
decisions of the popes and the decrees of councils. From 
patristic times, collections were made of the last. These 
collections from a chronological gradually acquired a topical 
and more systemic arrangement, which the compilers 
followed more completely after the opening of the tenth 
century. The decisions of the popes also had been collected, 
and then were joined to conciliar compilations and arranged 
after the same topical plan. 

1 Decretum, i. dist. viii. c. i. 
2 Decretum, i. dist. ix. c. xi. ; see ibid. dist. xiii., opening. 


In all of them there was unauthentic matter, accepted 
as if its pseudo-authorship or pseudo-source were genuine. 
But in the stormy times of the ninth century following the 
death of Charlemagne, the method of argument through 
forged authority was exceptionally creative. It produced 
two masterpieces which won universal acceptance. The 
first was a collection of false Capitularies ascribed to 
Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, and ostensibly the work 
of a certain Benedictus Levita, deacon of the Church of 
Mainz, who worked in the middle of the century. Far 
more famous and important was the book of False Decretals, 
put together and largely written, that is forged, about the 
same time, probably in the diocese of Rheims, and appear- 
ing as the work of Saint Isidore of Seville. This contained 
many forged letters of the early popes and other forged 
matter, including the Epistle or " Donation " of Constantine ; 
also genuine papal letters and conciliar decrees. These 
false collections were accepted by councils and popes, and 
formed part of subsequent compilations. 

From the tenth century onward many such compilations 
were made, all of them uncritical as to the genuineness of 
the matter taken, and frequently ill-arranged and discordant. 
They were destined to be superseded by the great work in 
which appears the better methods and more highly trained 
intelligence developing at the Bologna school in the first 
part of the twelfth century. Its author was Gratianus, a 
monk of the monastery of St. Felix at Bologna. He was 
a younger contemporary of Imerius and of Peter Lombard. 
Legend made him the latter's brother, with some pro- 
priety ; for the compiler of those epoch-making Sentences 
represents the same stage in the appropriation of the 
patristic theological heritage of the Middle Ages, that 
Gratian represents in the handling of the canon law. The 
Lombard's Sentences made a systematic and even harmoniz- 
ing presentation of the theology of the Fathers in their 
own language ; and the equally immortal Decretum of 
Gratian accomplished a like work for the canon law. 
This is the name by which his work is known, but not the 
name he gave it. That appears to have been Concordia 
discordantium canonum, which indicates his methodical 


presentation of his matter and his endeavour to reconcile 
conflicting propositions. 

The first part of the Decretum was entitled " De jure 
naturae et constitutionis." It presents the sources of the 
law, the Church's organization and administration, the 
ordination and ranking of the clergy, the election and 
consecration of bishops, the authority of legates and 
primates. The second part treats of the procedure of 
ecclesiastical courts, also the law regulating the property of 
the Church, the law of monks and the contract of marriage. 
The third part is devoted to the Sacraments and the 

Gratian's usual method is as follows : He will open 
with an authoritative proposition. If he finds it universally 
accepted, it stands as valid. But if there are opposing 
statements, he tries to reconcile them, either pointing out 
the difference in date (for the law of the Church may be 
progressive), or showing that one of the discordant rules 
had but local or otherwise limited application, or that 
the first proposition is the rule, while the others make 
the exceptions. If he still fails to establish concord, he 
searches to find which rule had been followed in the Roman 
Church, and accepts that as authoritative. A rule being 
thus made certain, he proceeds with subdivisions and 
distinctions, treating them as deductions from the main 
rule and adjusting the supporting texts. Or he will suppose 
a controversy {causa) and discuss its main and secondary 
issues. Throughout he accompanies his authoritative matter 
with his own commentary — commonly cited as the Dicta 
Gratiani} The Decretum was characterized by sagacity 
of interpretation and reconcilement, by vast learning, and 
clear ordering of the matter. Only it was uncritical as to 
the genuineness of its materials ; and a number of Gratian's 
own statements were subsequently disapproved in papal 
decretals. The Dicta Gratiani never received such formal 
sanction by pope or council as the writings of Roman 
jurists received by being taken into Justinian's Digest. 

The papal decretals had become the great source of 

^ Tardif, Sources du droit canonique, p. 175 sqq., has been chiefly followed 


canonical law. Gratian's work was soon supplemented by 
various compilations known as Appendices ad Decretum or 
Decretales extravagantes, to wit, those which the Decretum 
did not contain. These, however, were superseded by the 
collection, or rather codification, made at the command of 
the great canonist Gregory IX. and completed in the year 
1234. This authoritative work preserved Gratian's Decretum 
intact, but suppressed, or abridged and reordered, the 
decretals contained in subsequent collections. Arranged 
in five books, it forms the second part of the Corpus juris 
canonici. In 1298 Boniface VIII. promulgated a supple- 
mentary book known as the Sextus of Boniface. This 
with a new collection promulgated under the authority of 
Clement V. in 1313, called the Clementinae, and the 
Extravagantes of his successor John XXII. and certain 
other popes, constitute the last portions of the Corpus 
juris canonici} 

According to the law of the Empire the emperor's 
authority extended over the Church, its doctrine, its dis- 
cipline, and its property. Such authority was exercised 
by the emperors from Constantine to Justinian. But the 
Church had always stood upon the principle that it was 
better to obey God rather than man. This had been 
maintained against the power of the pagan Empire, and 
was not to be sunned out of existence by imperial favour. 
It was still better to obey God rather than the emperor. 
The Church still should say who were its members and 
entitled to participate in the salvation which it mediated. 
Ecclesiastical authorities could excommunicate ; that was 
their engine of coercion. These principles were incarnate 
in Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, withstanding and prohibiting 
Theodosius from Christian fellowship imtil he had done 
penance for the massacre at Thessalonica. Of necessity 
they inhered in the Church ; they were of the essence of 

^ On the above matters see (with the authorities and bibliographies therein 
given) Maasen, Geschichte der Quellen, etc., der canonischen Rechts (Bd. i., to the 
middle of the ninth century) ; Tardif, Sources du droit canonique (Paris, 1887) ; 
Zorn, Lehrbuch des Kirchenrechts (Stuttgart, 1888) ; Gerlach, Lehrbuch des catho- 
lischen Kirchenrechts (5th edition, Paderborn, 1890). Hinschius, Decretales 
pseudo-Isidorianae (Leipzig, 1863) ; Corpus juris canonici, ed. by Friedberg 
(Leipzig, 1879-1881). 


its strength to fulfil its purpose ; they stood for the duly 
constituted power of Christian resolution to uphold and 
advance the peremptory truth of Christ. 

So such principles persisted through the time of the 
hostile and then the favouring Roman Empire. And when 
the Empire in fact crumbled and fell, what de facto and de 
jure authority was best fitted to take the place of the imperial 
supremacy ? The Empire represented a universal secular 
dominion ; the Church was also imiversal, and with a 
universality now reaching out beyond the Empire's shrinking 
boundaries. In the midst of political fragments otherwise 
disjoined, the Church endured as the universal unity. The 
power of each Teutonic king was great in fact and law within 
his realm. Yet he was but a local potency, while the Church 
existed through his and other realms. And when the power 
of one Teutonic line (the Carolingian) reached something 
like universal sway, the Church was also there within and 
without. It held the learning of the time, and the culture 
which large-minded seculars respected ; and quite as much 
as the empire of Charlemagne, it held the prestige of Rome. 
Witness the attitude of Charles Martel and Pippin toward 
Boniface the great apostle, and the attitude of Boniface 
toward the Gregories whose legate he proclaimed himself, 
and upon whose central authority he based his claims to be 
obeyed. Through the reforms of the Prankish Church, 
carried out by him with the support of Charles Martel and 
Pippin, the ecclesiastical supremacy of Rome was established. 
Charlemagne, indeed, from the nature and necessities of his 
own transcendent power, possessed in fact the ecclesiastical 
authority of the Roman emperors, whom men deemed his 
predecessors. But after him the secular power fell again 
into fragments scarcely locally efficient, while the Church's 
universality of authority endured. 

In the unstable fragmentation of secular rule in the ninth 
century, the Isidorean Decretals presented the truth of the 
situation as it was to be, although not as it had been in the 
times of the Church dignitaries whose names were forged for 
that collection. And thereafter, as the Church recovered 
from its tenth-century disintegration, it advanced to the 
pragmatic demonstration of the validity of those false 


Decretals, on through the tempests of the age of Hildebrand 
to the final triumph of Innocent III. at the opening of the 
thirteenth century. Evidently the canon law, whatever 
might be its immediate or remote source, drew its authority 
from the sanction of the Roman Cathohc Church, which 
enimciated it and made it into a body corresponding to the 
Church's functions. It was what the Church promulgated 
as the law of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and the kingdom 
of God on earth. It should be the temporal and legal 
counterpart of the Church's spiritual purposes. Its general 
tendency and purpose was the promotion of the Church's 
saving aim, which regarded all things in the light of their 
relationship to life eternal. Therefore the Church's law 
could not but define and consider all worldly interests, all 
personal and property rights and secular authority, with 
constant regard to men's need of salvation. The advance- 
ment of that must be the final appellate standard of legal 

Such was the event . The entire canon law might be lodged 
within those propositions which Hildebrand enunciated 
and Innocent III. realized. For the salvation of souls, all 
authority on earth had been entrusted by Christ to Peter 
and his successors. Theirs was the spiritual sword ; secular 
power, the material sword, was to be exercised under the 
pope's mandate and permission. No king or emperor, no 
layman whatsoever, was exempt from the supreme authority 
of the pope, who also was the absolute head of the Church, 
which had become a monarchy. " The Lord entrusted to 
Peter not only the universal Church, but the government of 
the whole world," writes Innocent III., whose pontificate 
almost made this principle a fact. In private matters no 
member of the clergy could be brought before a secular 
court ; and the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts over 
the laity threatened to reduce the secular jurisdiction to 
narrow functions.^ The property of the Church might not 

1 Jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts embraced marriage and divorce, 
wills and inheritance, and, by virtue of their surveillance of usury and vows and 
oaths, practically the whole relationship between debtor and creditor. Prevalent 
mediaeval principles, at once economic, legal and theological, as to the rights of 
buyers and sellers (justum pretium, etc.), and as to usury, made part of the canon 
law and could be properly presented in connection with it and the theologies of 


be taxed or levied on by any temporal ruler or government ; 
nor could the Church's functions and authority be controlled 
or limited by any secular decree. Universally throughout 
every kingdom the Church was a sovereignty, not only in 
matters spiritual, but with respect to all the personal and 
material relationships that might be connected in anyway 
with the welfare of souls.^ 

The exposition of the Corpus juris civilis in the school 
of the glossators was of great moment in the evolution of 
mediaeval political theory, which in its turn yields one more 
example of the mediaeval application of thoughts derived 
from antique and patristic sources. Political thinking in 
the Middle Ages sought its surest foundation in theology ; 
then it built itself up with concepts drawn from the philosophy 
and social theory of the antique world ; and lastly it laid 
hold on jurisprudence, using the substance and reasoning of 
the Roman and the Canon law. 

Mediaeval ideas upon government and the relations 
between the individual and his earthly sovereign, started 
from theological premises, of patristic origin : e.g. that the 
universe and man were made by God, a miraculous creation, 
springing from no other cause, and subject to no other 
fundamental law, than God's unsearchable will, which never 
ceases to direct the whole creation to the Creator's ends. 
A further premise was the Scriptural revelation of God's 
purpose as to man, with all the contents of that revelation 
touching the overweening importance of man's deathless soul. 

Unity — the unity of the creation — springs from these 
premises, or is one of them. The principle of this unity 
is God's will. Within the universal whole, mankind also 
constitutes a unit, a commimity, specially ordained and 

the Scholastics. Thomas Aquinas discusses such matters in Summa Theol. II. 
ii., Quaestio 77. Cf. generally W. J. Ashley, English Economic History ; Troeltsch, 
Die Sociallehren der christlichen Kitchen (Tubingen, 1912). 

^ Volume ii. of R. W. and A. J. Carlyle's History of Mediaeval Political Theory 
in the West (1909) maintains that the statements of papal pretensions which were 
incorporated in the recognized collections of Decretals were less extreme than those 
■emanating from the papacy under stress of controversy. 


ordered. The Middle Ages, delivered over to allegory and 
to an unbridled recognition of the deductions of allegorical 
reasoning, argued thus : Mankind is a community ; mankind 
is also an organism, the mystical body whereof the head is 
Christ. Here was an allegory potent for foolishness or wisdom. 
It was used to symboUze the mystery of the oneness of all 
mankind in God, and the organic co-ordination of all sorts 
and conditions of men with one another in the divine 
commonwealth on earth ; it was also drawn out into every 
detail of banal anthropomorphic comparison. From John 
of Salisbury to Dante and Occam and Nicholas Cusanus, no 
point of fancied analogy between the parts and members of 
the body and the various functions of Church and State was 
left unexploited.^ 

Mankind then is one community ; also an organism. 
But within the human organism abides the duaHty of soul 
and body ; and the Community of Mankind on earth is 
constituted of two orders, the spiritual and temporal, Church 
and State. 2 There must be either co-ordination between 
State and Church, body and soul, or subordination of the 
temporal and material to the eternal and spiritual. To evoke 
an adjustment of what was felt to be an actually universal 
opposition, was the chief problem of mediaeval polity, and 
forms the warp and woof of conflicting theories. The Church 
asserted a full spiritual supremacy even in things temporal, 
and, to support the claim brought sound arguments as well as 
foolish allegory — allegory pretending to be horror-stricken 
at the vision of an animal with two heads, a bicephalic 
monstrosity. Thus : does not the Church comprise all man- 
kind ? Did not God found it ? Is not Christ its head, 
and under Him his vicegerent Peter and all the popes ? 
Then shall not the pope who commands the greater, which 

* See Gierke, Political Theories of the Middle Ages, trans, by Maitland (Cam- 
bridge, 1900), p. 22 sqq. and notes. I would express my indebtedness to this 
book for these pages on mediaeval political theories. Dimning's History of 
Political Theories is an excellent outline ; Carlyle's History of Mediaeval Political 
Theory gives the sources carefully. 

* Occasionally studium (knowledge, study, or science) is introduced as a third 
part or element of the human community or of himian life. Thus in the famous 
statement of Jordanes of Osnabriick — the Romans received the Sacerdotium, the 
Germans the Imperium, the French the Studium. See Gierke, Political Theories, 
p. 104, note 8. 



is the spiritual, much more command the less, the temporal ? 
And all the argumentation of the two swords, delivered to 
Peter, comes into play. That there are two swords is but 
a propriety of administration. Secular rulers wield the 
secular sword at the pope's command. They are instruments 
of the Church. Fundamentally the State is an ecclesiastical 
institution, and the bounds of secular law are set by the 
law spiritual : the canon law overrides the laws of every 
State. True, in this division, the State also is ordained of 
God, but only as subordinate. And divinely ordained 
though it be, the origin of the State lies in sin ; for sin 
alone made government and law needful for man.^ 

On the other hand, the partisans of the State upheld 
co-ordination as the true principle. ^ The two swords 
represent distinct powers, Sacerdotium and Imperium. The 
latter as well as the former is from God ; and the two are 
co-ordinates, although of course the Church which wields 
the spiritual sword is the higher. This theory creates no 
bicephalic monster. God is the universal head. And even 
as man is body as well as soul, the human community is 
State as well as Church ; and the State needs the emperor 
for its head, as the Church has the pope. The Roman 
Dominion, imperium mundi, was legitimate, and by divine 
appointment has passed over to the Roman-German 
emperor. Other views sustaining the scheme of co-ordina- 
tion upheld a plurality of states, rather than one universal 
Imperium. Of course these opposing views of subordination 
or co-ordination of State and Church took on every shade 
of diversity. 

As to both Church and State, mediaeval political theory 
was predominantly monarchical. Ideally this flowed from 
the thought of God as the true monarch of the universe. 
Practically it comported with mediaeval social conditions. 
Under Innocent III., if not imder Gregory VII., the Church 
had become a monarchy well-nigh absolute.^ The pope's 

^ Cf. Gierke, o.c. p. 109, note 16. But compare Carlyle, o.c. vol. ii. part 
ii. chaps, vii.-xi. 

^ Even toward the close of the Middle Ages, Marsilius of Padua was almost 
alone in positing the absolute supremacy of the State, says Gierke. 

® See Gierke, o.c. p. 144, note 131, and compare notes 132, 133, and 183 for 
attacks upon the plenary power of the pope. 


power continued plenary until the great schism and the 
age of councils evoked by it. For the secular state, the 
common voice likewise favoured monarchy. The unity of 
the social organism is best effected by the singleness of its 
head. Thomas Aquinas authoritatively reasons thus, and 
Dante maintains that as the unifying principle is Will, the 
will of one man is the best means to realize it.^ But 
monarchy is no absolute right existing for the ruler's 
benefit, rather it is an office to be righteously exercised 
for the good of the community. The monarch's power is 
limited, and if his command outrages law or right, it is a 
nullity ; his subjects need not obey, and the principle 
applies, that it is better to obey God than man. Even 
when, as in the days of the Hohenstaufen, the civil jurists 
claimed for the emperor the plenitudo potestatis of a Roman 
Caesar, the opposite doctrine held strong, which gave him 
only a limited power, in its nature conditioned on its 
rightful exercise. 

Moreover, rights of the community were not im- 
recognized, and indeed were supported by elaborate theories 
as the Middle Ages advanced to their climacteric. The 
thought of a contract between ruler and people frequently 
appears, and reference to the contract made at Hebron 
between David and the people of Israel (2 Sam. v. 3). 
The civil jurist also looked back to the principle of the 
jus gentium giving to every free people the right to choose 
a ruler ; also to that famous text of the Digest, where, 
through the lex regia, the people were said to have conferred 
their powers upon the princeps.^ With such thoughts of 
the people's rights came theories of representation and of 
the monarch as the people's representative ; and Roman 
corporation law supplied the rules for mediaeval representa- 
tive assemblies, lay and clerical. ^ 

The old Germanic state was a conglomerate of positive 
law and specific custom, having no existence beyond the 
laws, which were its formative constituents. Such a con- 

1 Gierke, o.c. pp. 31-32, and p. 139, notes 107 and 108. 

* Dig. i. 4, I ; Gierke, o.c. p. 39 and pp. 146, 147. 

* Gierke, o.c. p. 64. Cf. E. Barker, The Dominican Order and Convocation 
(Oxford, 1913). 


ception did not satisfy mediaeval publicists, imbued with 
antique views of the State's further aims and potency. Nor 
were all men satisfied with the State's divinely ordered 
origin in human sinfulness. An ultimate ground for its 
existence was sought, commensurate with its broadest aims. 
Such was found, not in positive, but in natural law — again 
an antique conception. That a veritable natural law 
existed, all men agreed ; also that its source lay back of 
human conventions, somehow in the nature of God. All 
admitted its absolute supremacy, binding alike upon popes 
and secular monarchs, and rendering void all acts and 
positive laws contravening it. It must be the State's 
ultimate constituent ground. 

God was the source of natural law. Some argued that 
it proceeded from His will, as a command, others that its 
source was eternal Reason announcing her necessary and 
imalterable dictates ; again its source was held to lie more 
definitely in the Reason that was identical with God the 
summa ratio in Deo existens, as Aquinas puts it. From 
that springs the Lex naturalis, ordained to rest on the 
participation of man, as a rational creature, in the moral 
order which he perceives by the light of natural reason. 
This lex naturalis (or jus naturale) is a true promulgated 
law, since God implants it for recognition in the minds of 
men.^ Absolute unconditional supremacy was ascribed to 
it, and also to the jus divinum, which God revealed super- 
naturally for a supramundane end. A cognate supremacy 
was ascribed to the jus commune gentium, which was 
composed of rules of the jus naturale adapted to the 
conditions of fallen human nature. 

Such law was above the State, to which, on the other 
hand, positive law was subject. Whenever the ruler was 
conceived as sovereign or absolute, he likewise was deemed 
above positive law, but bound by these higher laws. They 
were the source and sanction of the innate and indestructible 
rights of the individual, to property and liberty and life 
as they were formulated at a later period. It is evident 
how the recognition of such rights fell in with the Christian 
revelation of the absolute value of every individual in and 

1 Gierke, o.c. p. 172, note 256. Of. ante, p. 297. 


for himself and his immortal life. On the other hand, 
certain rights of the State, or the community, were also 
indestructible and inalienable by virtue of the nature of 
their source in natural law.^ 

This abstract of political theory has been stated in 
terms generalized to vagueness, and with no attempt to 
follow the details or trace the historical development. The 
purpose has been to give the general flavour of mediaeval 
thought concerning Church and State, and the Individual 
as a member of them both. One observes how the patristic 
and mediaeval Christian thought mingles with the antique ; 
and one may assume the intellectual acumen applied by 
legist, canonist, and scholastic theologian to the discussion 
and formulation of these high arguments. The mediaeval 
genius for abstractions is evident, and the mediaeval faculty 
of linking them to the affairs of life ; clear also is the baneful 
effect of mediaeval allegory. Even as men nowadays 
are disposed to rest in the apparent reality of the tangible 
phenomenon, so the mediaeval man just as commonly 
sought for his reality in what the phenomenon might be 
conceived to symbolize. Therefore in the higher political 
controversies, even as in other interests of the human spirit, 
argument through allegory was accepted as legitimate, 
if not convincing ; and a proper sequence of thought was 
deemed to lie from one symbolical meaning to another, 
with even a deeper validity than from one palpable fact to 
that which followed from it. 

^ See Gierke, o.c. pp. 73-86, and corresponding notes. 






The religious philosophy or theology of the Middle Ages is 
commonly called scholasticism, and its exponents are called 
the scholastics. The name applies most properly to the 
respectable academic thinkers. These, in the early Middle 
Ages, usually were monks living in monasteries, like St. 
Anselm, for instance, who was Abbot of Bee in Normandy 
before, to his sorrow, he was made Archbishop of Canterbury. 
In the thirteenth century, however, while these respected 
thinkers still were monks, or rather mendicant friars, they 
were also university professors. Albertus Magnus and St. 
Thomas Aquinas, the great Dominicans, and their friend St. 
Bonaventura, who became the head of the Franciscan Order, 
all lectured at the University of Paris, the chief university 
of the Middle Ages in the domain of philosophy and theology. 
Moreover, as the scholastics were respectable and academic, 
so they were usually orthodox Churchmen, good Roman 
Catholics. The conduct or opinions of some of them, 
Abaelard for example, became suspect to the Church 
authorities ; yet Abaelard, although his book had been 
condemned, kept within the Church's pale, and died a monk 
of Cluny. There were plenty of obdurate heretics in the 
Middle Ages ; but their bizarre ideas, sometimes coming 
down from Manichaean sources, were scarcely germane to the 
central lines of mediaeval thought.^ 

^ Little will be said in these pages of palpable crass heretics like the Cathari, 
for example. The philosophic ideas of such seem gathered from the flotsami and 
jetsam of the later antique world ; their stock was not of the best, and bore little 
interesting fruit for later times. Such mediaeval heresies present no continuous 
evolution like that of the proper scholasticism. Progress in philosophy and 


One hears of scholastic philosophy and scholastic 
theology ; and assuredly these mediaeval theologian-philo- 
sophers endeavoured to distinguish between the one and 
the other phase of the matters which occupied their minds. 
The distinction was intelligibly drawn and, in many treatises, 
doubtless affected the choice and ordering of topics. 
Whether it was consistently observed in the handling of 
those topics, is another question, which perhaps should be 
answered in the negative. At all events, to attempt to 
observe this distinction in considering the ultimate intel- 
lectual interests of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, 
might sap the matter of the human interest attaching to it, 
to wit, that interest and validity possessed by all serious 
effort to know — and to be saved. These were the motives 
of the scholastics, whether they used their reason, or clung to 
revelation, or did both, as they always did. 

Mediaeval methods of thinking and topics of thought 
^ are no longer in vogue. For the time, men have turned 
from the discussion of universals and the common unity or 
separate individuality of mind, and are as little concerned 
with transubstantiation as with the old dispute over 
investitures. But the scholastics were men and so are we. 

theology came through academic personages, who at all events laid claim to 
orthodoxy. All lines of advance leading on to later phases of philosophic, scientific, 
and religious thought, lay within the labours of such, some of whom, however, 
were suspected or even condemned by the Church, like Eriugena, Abaelard, or 
Roger Bacon. But these men did not stand apart from orthodox academic 
circles, and were never cast out by the Chiurch. Thought and learning in the 
Middle Ages were domiciled in monastic, episcopal, or imiversity circles ; and 
these were at least conventionally orthodox. 

It has been said, to be sure, that the heresy of one generation becomes the 
orthodoxy of another ; but this is true only of tendencies like those of Abaelard, 
which represent the gradual expansion and clearing up of scholastic processes. 
For the time they may be condemned, perhaps because of the vain and contentious 
character of the suspected thinker ; but in the end they are recognized as 

The Averroists constitute an apparent exception. Yet they were a philosophic 
and academic sect, whose heresy consisted in an implicit following of Aristotle 
as interpreted by Averroes. Moreover, they sought to save their orthodoxy 
by their doctrine of the two kinds of truth, philosophic and theological or dog- 
matic. It is not clear that much frxiitful thought came from their school. The 
positions of Siger de Brabant, a prominent Averroist and contemporary of Aquinas, 
are referred to post. Chapter XXXVIII. The best account of Averroism is 
Mandonnet's Siger de Brabant et I'averroisme latin au XIIP sihle (second edition, 
Louvain, 1911). See also De Wulf, Hist, of Medieval Philosophy (3rd ed., Long- 
mans, 1909), p. 379 sqq. with authorities cited. 


Our humanity is one with theirs. Men are still under the 
necessity of reflecting upon their own existence and the 
world without, and still feel the need to reach conclusions 
and the impulse to formulate consistently what seem to 
them vital propositions. Herein we are blood kin to Gerbert 
and Anselm, to Abaelard and Hugo of St. Victor, to Thomas 
Aquinas as well as Roger Bacon : and our highest nature is 
one with theirs in the intellectual fellowship of human 
endeavour to think out and present that which shall appease 
the mind. Because of this kinship with the scholastics, and 
the sympathy we feel for the struggle which is the same in 
us and them, their intellectual endeavours, their achieved 
conclusions, although now appearing as but apt or neces- 
sitated phrases, may have for us the immortal interest of 
the eternal human. 

Let us then approach mediaeval thought as man meets 
man, and seek in it for what may still be valid, or at least 
real to us, because agreeing with what we find within our- 
selves. Being men as well as scholars, we would win from 
its parchment-covered tomes those elements which if they 
do not represent everlasting verities, are at least symbols of 
the permanent necessities of the human mind. Whatever 
else there is in mediaeval thought, as touching us less 
nearly, may be considered by way of historical setting and 

In different men the impulse to know bears different 
relationships to the rest of life. It sometimes seems self- 
impelled, and again palpably inspired by a motive beyond 
itself. In some form, however, it winds itself into every 
action of our mental faculties, and no province of life appears 
untouched by this craving of the mind. Nevertheless, to 
know is not the whole matter ; for with knowledge comes 
appetition or aversion, admiration or contempt, love or 
abhorrence ; and other impulses — emotional, desiderative, 
loving — ^impel the human creature to realize its nature in 
states of heightened consciousness that are not palpable 
modes of knowing, though they may be replete with all the 
knowledge that the man has gained. 

These ultimate cravings which we recognize in ourselves, 
inspired mediaeval thought. Its course, its progress, its 


various phases, its contents and completed systems, all 
represent the operation of human faculty pressing to expres- 
sion and realization under the accidental or " historical " 
conditions of the mediaeval period. We may be sure that 
many kinds of human craving and corresponding faculty 
realized themselves in mediaeval philosophy, theology, piety 
and mysticism — the last a word used provisionally, until we 
succeed in resolving it into terms of clearer significance. 
And we also note that in these provinces, realization is 
expression. Every faculty, every energy, in man seeks to 
function, to realize its power in act. The sheer body — ^if 
there be sheer body — acts bodily, operates, and so makes 
actual its powers. But those human energies which are 
informed with mind, realize themselves in ardent or rational 
thought, or in uttered words, or in products of the artfully 
devising hand. All this clearly is expression, and corre- 
sponds, if it is not one and the same, with the passing of 
energy from potency to the actuality which is its end and 
consummation. Thus love, seeking its end, thereby seeks 
expression, through which it is enhanced, and in which it is 
realized. Likewise, impelled by the desire to know, the 
faculties of cognition and reason realize themselves in expres- 
sion ; and in expression each part of rational knowledge is 
clarified, completed, rendered accordant with the data of 
observation and the laws or necessities of the mind. 

Human faculties form a correlated whole ; and this 
composite human nature seeks to act, to function. Thus the 
whole man strives to realize the fullest actuality of his being, 
to satisfy or express the whole of him, and not alone his 
reason, nor yet his emotions, or his appetites. This utter- 
most realization of human being — man's summum bonum 
or summa necessitas — cannot unite the incompatible within 
its synthesis. It must be kept a consistent ideal, a possible 
whole. Here the demiurge is the discriminating and con- 
structive intelligence, which builds together the permanent 
and valuable elements of being, and excludes whatever 
cannot coexist in concord with them. Yet the intelligence 
does not always set its own rational activities as man's 
furthest goal of realization. It may place love above 
reason. And, of course, its discriminating judgment wiU 


be affected by current knowledge and by dominant beliefs 
as to man and his destiny, the universe and God. 

Manifestly whatever the thoughtful idealizing man in 
any period (and our attention may at once focus itself upon 
the Middle Ages) adjudges to belong to the final realization 
of his nature, will become an object of intellectual interest 
for him ; and he will deem it a proper subject for study 
and meditation. The rational, spiritual, or even physical 
elements, which may enter and compose this, his summum 
honum, represent those intellectual interests which may be 
termed ultimate, for the very reason, that they relate to 
what the thinker deems his beatitude. These ultimate 
intellectual interests possess an absolute sanction, for the 
lack of which whatever lies outside of them tends to adjudge 
itself vain. 

The philosophy, theology, and the profoundly felt and 
reasoned piety, of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries made 
up that period's ultimate intellectual interests. We are not 
concerned with other matters occupying its attention, save 
as they bore on man's supreme beatitude, which was held to 
consist in his everlasting salvation and all that might con- 
stitute his bliss in that unending state. The elements of 
this blessedness were not deemed to lie altogether in rational 
cognition and its processes ; for the conception of the 
soul's beatitude was catholic ; and while with some men 
the intellectual elements were dominant, with others salva- 
tion's summit was attained along the paths of spiritual 

Obviously, from the side of the emotions, there could 
come no large and lasting happiness, imless emotional desire 
and devotion were directed to that which might also satisfy 
the mind, or at all events, would not conflict with its judg- 
ment. Hence the emotional side of the ultimate mediaeval 
ideal was pietistic ; because the mediaeval dogmatic faith 
regarded the emotional impulses between one human being 
and another as distracting, if not wicked. Such mortal 
impulses were so very difficult to harmonize with the eternal 
beatitude which consisted in the cognition and love of God. 
This principle was proclaimed by monks and theologians, or 
philosophers ; it was even recognized (although not followed) 


in the literature which glorified the love of man and woman, 
but in which the lover-knight so often ends a hermit, and 
the convent at last receives his sinful mistress. On the 
other hand, reason, with its practical and speculative know- 
ledge, is sterile when unmixed with piety and love. This is 
the sum of Bonaventura's fervid arguments, and is as clearly, 
if more quietly, recognized by Aquinas, with whom fides 
without caritas is informis, formless, very far indeed from its 
true actuality or realization. 

Thus, for the full realization of man's highest good in 
everlasting salvation, the two complementary phases of the 
human spirit had to act and function in concord. Together 
they must realize themselves in such catholic expression as 
should exclude only the froward or evil elements, non- 
elements rather, of man's nature. Both represent ultimate 
mediaeval interests and desires ; and perhaps deep down and 
very intimately, even inscrutably, they may be one, even as 
they clearly are complementary phases of the human soul. 
Yet with certain natures who perhaps fail to hold the balance 
between them, the two phases seem to draw apart, or at 
least to evince themselves in distinct expression, and indeed 
in all men they are usually distinguishable. 

Generally speaking, the conception of man's divinely 
mediated salvation, and of the elements of human being 
which might be carried on, and realized in a state of ever- 
lasting beatitude, prescribed the range of ultimate intellec- 
tual interests for the Middle Ages. The same had been 
despotically true of the patristic period. Augustine would 
know God and the soul ; Ambrose expressed equally em- 
phatic views upon the vanity of all knowledge that did not 
contribute to an understanding of the Christian Faith. This 
view was held with temperamental and barbarizing narrow- 
ness by Gregory the Great. It was admitted, as of course, 
throughout the Carolingian period, although humanistically- 
minded men played with the* pagan literature. Nor was it 
seriously disputed in the eleventh or twelfth century, when 
men began to delight in dialectic, and some cared for pagan 
literature ; nor yet in the thirteenth when an increasing 
number were asking many things from philosophy and 
natural knowledge, which had but distant bearing on the 


soul's salvation. One of these men was Roger Bacon, whose 
scientific studies were pursued with ceaseless energy. But 
he could also state emphatically the principle of the worth- 
lessness of whatever does not help men to understand the 
divine truths by which they are saved. In Bacon's time, the 
love of knowledge was enlarging its compass, while, reaUy or 
nominally as the individual case might be, the criterion of 
relevancy to the Faith still obtained, and set the topics with 
which men should occupy themselves. All matters of 
philosophy or natural science had to relate themselves to the 
summum honum of salvation in order to possess ultimate 
human interest. Therefore, if philosophy was to preserve 
the strongest reason for its existence, it had to remain the 
handmaid of theology. Still, to be sure, the conception of 
man's beatitude would become more comprehensive with the 
expansion and variegation of the desire for knowledge. 

As the summum honum of salvation prescribed the topics 
of ultimate intellectual interest for the Middle Ages, so the 
stress which it laid upon one topic rather than another 
tended to direct their ordering or classification, as well as 
the proportion of attention devoted to each one. Likewise 
the form or method of presentation was controlled by the 
authority of the Scriptural statement of the way and means 
of salvation, and the well-nigh equally authoritative inter- 
pretation of the same by the beatified Fathers. Thus the 
nature of the summum honum and the character of its 
Scriptural statement and patristic exposition suggested the 
arrangement of topics, and set the method of their treatment 
in those works of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries which 
afford the most important presentations of the ultimate 
intellectual interests of that time. Obvious examples will 
be Abaelard's Sic el non and his Theologia, Hugo of St. 
Victor's De sacramenfis, the Lombard's Books of Sentences, 
and the Summa theologiae of Thomas Aquinas. 

It will be seen in the next chapter that the arrangement 
of topics in these comprehensive treatises differed from what 
would have been evolved through the requirements of a 
systematic presentation of human knowledge. Aquinas sets 
forth the reasons why one mode of treatment is suitable to 
philosophy and another to sacred science, and why the 


latter may omit matters proper for the former, or treat them 
from another point of view. The supremacy of sacred 
science is incidentally shown by the argument. In his 
Contra Gentiles} chapter four, book second, bears the title : 
" Quod aliter considerat de creaturis Philosophus et aliter 
Theologus " (" That the philosopher views the creation in one 
way and the theologian in another "). In the text he says : 

" The science (doctrina) of Christian faith considers creatures 
so far as there may be in them some likeness of God, and so far as 
error regarding them might lead to error in things divine. . . . 
Human philosophy considers them after their own kind, and its 
parts are so devised as to correspond with the different classes 
(genera) of things ; but the faith of Christ considers them, not 
after their own kind, as for example, fire as fire, but as representing 
the divine altitude. . . . The philosopher considers what belongs 
to them according to their own nature ; the believer [fidelis) 
regards in creatures only what pertains to them in their relation- 
ship to God, as that they are created by Him and subject to Him. 
Wherefore the science of the Faith is not to be deemed incomplete, 
if it passes over many properties of things, as the shape of the 
heaven or the quality of motion. ... It also follows that the two 
sciences do not proceed in the same order. With philosophy, 
which regards creatures in themselves, and from them draws on 
into a knowledge of God, the first consideration is in regard to 
the creatures and the last is as to God. But in the science of 
faith, which views creatures only in their relationship to God [in 
ordine ad Deum), the first consideration is of God, and next of the 

Obviously sacra doctrina, which is to say, theologia, 
proceeds differently from philosophia humana, and evidently 
it has to do with matters of ultimate importance, and 
therefore of ultimate intellectual interest. The passage 
quoted from the Contra Gentiles may be taken as intro- 
ductory to the more elaborate statement at the beginning 
of his Summa theologiae, where Thomas sets forth the 
principles by which sacra doctrina is distinguished from the 
philosophicae disciplinae, to wit, the various sciences of 
human philosophy : 

" It was necessary to human salvation that there should be a 
science {doctrina) according with divine revelation, besides the 

^ Called also his Summa philosophica, to distinguish it from his Summa theo- 


philosophical disciplines which are pursued by human reason. 
Because man was formed [ordinatur) toward God as toward an 
end exceeding reason's comprehension. That end should be 
known to men, who ought to regulate their intentions and actions 
toward an end. Wherefore it was necessary for salvation that 
man should know certain matters through revelation, which 
surpass human reason." 

Thomas now points out that, on account of many errors, 
it also was necessary for man to be instructed through 
divine revelation as to those saving truths concerning God 
which human reason was capable of investigating. He next 
proceeds to show that sacra doctrina is science. 

" But there are two kinds of sciences. There are those which 
proceed from the principles known by the natural hght of the 
mind, as arithmetic and geometry. There are others which pro- 
ceed from principles known by the Hght of a superior science : 
as perspective proceeds from principles made known through 
geometry, and music from principles known through arithmetic. 
And sacra doctrina is science in this way, because it proceeds from 
principles known by the light of a superior science or knowledge 
which is the knowledge belonging to God and the beatified. Thus 
as music believes the principles delivered to it by arithmetic, so 
sacred doctrine believes the principles revealed to it from God." 

The question then is raised whether sacra doctrina is one 
science, or many. And Thomas answers, that it is one, by 
reason of the unity of its formal object. For it views every- 
thing discussed by it as divinely revealed ; and all things 
which are subjects of revelation [revelahilia) have part in the 
formal conception of this science ; and so are comprehended 
under sacra doctrina, as under one science. Nevertheless it 
extends to subjects belonging to various departments of 
knowledge so far as they are knowable through divine 
illumination. As some of these may be practical and some 
speculative, it follows that sacred science includes both the 
practical and the speculative, even as God with the same 
knowledge knows himself and also the things He makes. 

" Yet this science is more speculative than practical, because 
on principle it treats of divine things rather than human actions, 
which it treats in so far as man by means of them is directed 
{ordinatur) to perfect cognition of God, wherein eternal beatitude 
consists, . . . This science in its speculative as well as practical 



functions transcends other sciences, speculative and practical. 
One speculative science is said to be worthier than another, by 
reason of its certitude, or the dignity of its matter. In both 
respects this science surpasses other speculative sciences, because 
the others have certitude from the natural light of human reason, 
which may err ; but this has certitude from the hght of the divine 
knowledge, which cannot be deceived ; likewise by reason of the 
dignity of its matter, because primarily it relates to matters too 
high for reason, while other sciences consider only those which 
are subjected to reason. It is worthier than the practical sciences, 
which are ordained for an ulterior end ; for so far as this science is 
practical, its end is eternal beatitude, unto which as an ulterior end 
all other ends of the practical sciences are ordained (ordinantur). 
" Moreover although this science may accept something from 
the philosophical sciences, it requires them merely for the larger 
manifestation of the matters which it teaches. For it takes its 
principles, not from other sciences, but immediately from God 
through revelation. So it does not receive from other sciences 
as from superiors, but uses them as servants. Even so, it uses 
them not because of any defect of its own, but because of the 
defectiveness of our intellect which is more easily conducted 
[manuducitur) by natural reason to the things above reason 
which this science teaches." 

Thomas now shows, with scholastic formalism, that God 
is the subjedum of this science ; since all things in it are 
treated with reference to God {sub ratione Dei), either 
because they are God himself, or because they bear relation- 
ship {habent ordinem) to God as toward their cause and end 
{principium et finem). The final question is whether this 
science be argumenfativa, using arguments and proofs ; and 
Thomas thus sets forth his masterly solution : 

" I reply, it should be said that as other sciences do not argue, 
to prove their first principles, but argue from them in order to 
prove other matters in those sciences, so this science does not 
argue to prove its principles, which are articles of Faith, but 
proceeds from them to prove something else, as the Apostle, in 
I Corinthians xv., argues from the resurrection of Christ to 
prove the resurrection of us all. One should bear in mind 
that in the philosophic sciences the lower science neither 
proves its own first principles nor disputes with him who 
denies them, but leaves that to a higher science. But the 
science which is the highest among them, that is metaphysics, 
does dispute with him who denies its principles, if the adversary 


will concede anything ; if he concede nothing it cannot thus argue 
with him, but can only overthrow his arguments. Likewise 
sacra doctrina or theology, since it owns no higher science, disputes 
with him who denies its principles, by argument indeed, if the 
adversary will concede any of the matters which it accepts through 
revelation. Thus through Scriptural authorities we dispute 
against heretics, and adduce one article against those who deny 
another. But if the adversary will give credence to nothing 
which is divinely revealed, sacred science has no arguments by 
which to prove to him the articles of faith, but has only argu- 
ments to refute his reasonings against the Faith, should he 
adduce any. For since faith rests on infallible truth, its contrary 
cannot be demonstrated : manifestly the proofs which are brought 
against it are not proofs, but controvertible arguments. 

" To argue from authority is most appropriate to this science ; 
for its principles rest on revelation, and it is proper to credit the 
authority of those to whom the revelation was made. Nor does 
this derogate from the dignity of this science ; for although proof 
from authority based on human reason may be weak, yet proof 
from authority based on divine revelation is most effective. 

" Yet sacred science also makes use of human reason ; not 
indeed to prove the Faith, because this would take away the merit 
of believing ; but to make manifest other things which may be 
treated in this science. For since grace does not annul nature, 
but perfects it, natural reason should serve faith, even as the 
natural inclination conforms itself to love {caritas). Hence 
sacred science uses the philosophers also as authority, where 
they were able to know the truth through natural reason. It 
uses authorities of this kind as extraneous arguments having 
probabihty. But it uses the authorities of the canonical Scrip- 
tures arguing from its own premises and with certainty. And it 
uses the authorities of other doctors of the Church, as arguing 
upon its own ground, yet only with probability. For our faith 
rests upon the revelation made to the Apostles and Prophets, 
who wrote the canonical books ; and not upon the revelation, 
if there was any, made to other doctors." ^ 

Mediaeval thought was beset behind and before by the 
compulsion of its conditions. Antique philosophy and the 
dogmatic Christian Faith, very dual and yet joined, antagon- 
istic and again united, constituted the form-giving principles 
of mediaeval thinking. They were, speaking in scholastic 
phrase, the substantial as well as accidental forms of 

^ Summa iheologiae, i. i., quaestio i. art. i-8. 


mediaeval theology, philosophy, and knowledge. Which 
means that they set the lines of mediaeval theology or philo- 
sophy, and caused the one and the other to be what it became, 
rather than something else ; and also that they supplied the 
knowledge which mediaeval men laboured to acquire, and 
attempted to adjust their thinking to. Thus, through the 
twelfth, the thirteenth, and the fourteenth centuries, they 
remained the inworking formal causes of mediaeval thought ; 
while, on the other hand, the moving and efficient causes 
(still speaking in scholastic-Aristotelian phrase) were the 
human impulses which those formal causes moulded, or 
indeed suggested, and the faculties which they trained. 

The patristic system of dogma with the antique philo- 
sophy, set the forms of mediaeval expression, fixed the 
distinctive qualities of mediaeval thought, furnished its 
topics, and even necessitated its problems — in two ways : 
First, through the specific substance which passed over and 
filled the mediaeval productions ; and secondly, simply by 
reason of the existence of such a vast authoritative body of 
antique and patristic opinion, knowledge, dogma, which the 
Middle Ages had to accept and master, and beyond which 
the substance of mediaeval thinking was hardly destined to 

The first way is obvious enough. The second is less 
obvious, but equally important. This mass of dogma, know- 
ledge, and opinion, existed finished and complete. Men 
imperfectly equipped to comprehend it were brought to it by 
the conviction that it was necessary to their salvation, and 
then gradually by the persuasion also that it offered the only 
means of intellectual progress. The struggle to master such 
a volume of knowledge issuing from a more creative past, 
gave rise to novel problems, or promoted old ones to a novel 
prominence. The problem of imiversals was taken directly 
from the antique dialectic. It played a monstrous role in 
the twelfth century because it was in very essence a funda- 
mental problem of cognition, of knowing, and so pressed 
upon men who were driven by the need to master con- 
tinually unfolding continents of thought. ^ This is an 
instance of a problem transmitted from the past, but blown 

1 Post, Chapter XXXVII., i. 


up to extraordinary importance by mediaeval intellectual 
conditions. So throughout the whole scholastic range, 
attitude and method alike are fixed by the fact that 
scholasticism was primarily an appropriation of transmitted 

In considering the characteristics of mediaeval thought, 
is well to bear in mind these diverse ways in which its 
antecedents made it what it was : through their substance 
transmitted to it ; through the receptive attitude forced upon 
men by existing accumulations of authoritative doctrine, and 
the method entailed upon mediaeval thought by its scholastic 
rather than originative character. Also one will not omit to 
notice which elements came from the action of the patristic 
body of antecedents, rather than from the antique group, 
and vice versa. 

Since the antique and patristic constituted well-nigh the 
whole substance of philosophy and theology in the Middle 
Ages, a separate consideration of what was thus transmitted 
would amount to a history of mediaeval thought from a 
somewhat unilluminating point of view. On the other hand, 
one may learn much as to the qualities of mediaeval thought 
from observing the attitudes of various men in successive 
centuries toward Greek philosophy and patristic theology. 
The Fathers had used the concepts of the former in the 
construction of their systems of acceptance of the Christian 
Faith. But the spirit of inquiry from which Greek philo- 
sophy had sprung, was very different from the spirit in which 
the Fathers used its concepts and arguments, in order to 
substantiate what they accepted on the authority of Scripture 
and tradition. It is true that Greek philosophy in the Neo- 
Platonism of Porphyry and lamblicus was not far from the 
patristic attitude toward knowledge. But the spirit of these 
declining moods of Neo-Platonism was not the spirit which 
had carried the philosophy of the Greeks to its intellectual 
culmination in Plato and Aristotle, and to its attainment of 
the ethically rational in Stoicism and the system of Epicurus. 

Thus patristic thinking was essentially different in 
purpose and method from the philosophy which it forced to 
serve its uses ; and the two differed by every difference of 
method, spirit, and intent which were destined to appear 


among the various kinds of mediaeval thinkers. But the 
difference between Greek philosopher and Church Father 
was deeper than any that ever could exist among mediaeval 
men. Some of the last might be conventionally orthodox 
and passionately pious, while others cared more distinctly 
for the fruits of knowledge. But even these could not be as 
Greek philosophers, because they were accustomed to rely 
on authority, and because they who drew their knowledge 
from an existing store would not have the independence 
and originality distinguishing the Greeks, who had created 
so much of that store from which they drew.^ Moreover, 
while neither Plato's inquiry for truth, nor Aristotle's catholic 
search for knowledge, was isolated from its bearing on either 
the conduct or the event of life, nevertheless with them 
rational inquiry was a final motive representing in itself that 
which was most divinely human, and so the best for man.^ 
But with the philosophers of the Middle Ages, it never was 
quite so. For the need of salvation had worked in men's 
blood for generations. And salvation, man's highest good, 
did not consist in humanly-attained knowledge or in virtue 
won by human strength ; but was divinely mediated and 
had to be accepted upon authority. Hence, even in the 
great twelfth and thirteenth centuries, intellectual inquiry 
was never unlimbered from bands of deference, nor 
ever quite dispassionately rational or unaffected by the 
mortal need to attain a salvation which was bestowed or 
withheld by God according to His plan authoritatively 

Accordingly all mediaeval variances of thought show 
common similitudes : to wit, some consciousness of need of 
super-rational and superhuman salvation ; deference to some 
authority ; and finally a pervasive scholasticism, since 
mediaeval thought was of necessity diligent, acceptant, 
reflective, rather than original. One will be impressed with 
the formal character of mediaeval thought. For being thus 

^ Even the Averroists were more mediaeval than Greek, inasmuch as they 
professed to follow Aristotle implicitly. Of. post. Chapter XXXVIII., at the end. 

^ A touch of " salvation," or salvation's need, is on Plato when his " philo- 
sophy " becomes a consideration of death {fieKiri-] Oavdrov) and a process of 
growing as like to God (ofiolucris Oeif) as man can. Pliaedo, 80 e, and Theaetetus, 
176 A. 


scholastic, it was occupied with devising forms through which 
to express, or re-express, the mass of knowledge proffered 
to it. Besides, formal logic was a prominent part of the 
transmitted contents of antique philosophy, and became 
a chief discipline for mediaeval students ; because they 
accepted it along with all the rest, and found its training 
helpful for men burdened with such intellectual tasks as 

Within the lines of these universal qualities wind the 
divergencies of mediaeval thought ; and one will notice how 
they consist in leanings toward the ways of Greek philosophy, 
or a reliance more or less complete upon the contents and 
method of patristic theology. One common quality, of 
which we note the variations, is that of deference to the 
authority of the past. The mediaeval scholar could hardly 
read a classic poet without finding authoritative statements 
upon every topic brushed by the poet's fancy, and of course 
the matter of more serious writings, history, logic, natural 
science, was implicitly accepted. If the pagan learning was 
thus regarded, how much more absolute was the deference to 
sacred doctrine. Here all was authority. Scripture was 
the primary source ; next came the creed, and the dogmas 
established by councils ; and then the expositions of the 
Fathers. Thus the meaning of the authoritative Scripture 
was pressed into authoritative dogma, and then authorita- 
tively systematized. The process had been intellectual and 
rational, yet with the driven rationality of Church Fathers 
struggling to formulate and express the accepted import of 
the Faith delivered to the saints. Authority, faith, held the 
primacy, and in two senses, for not only was it supreme and 
final, but it was also prior in initiative efficiency. Tertullian's 
cerium est, quia impossibile est, was an extreme paradox. 
But Augustine's credimus ut cognoscamus was fundamental, 
and remained unshaken. Anselm lays it at the basis of his 
arguments ; with Bernard and many others it is credo first 
of all, let the intelligere come as it may, and as it will accord- 
ing to the fulness of our faith. The same principle of faith's 
efficient primacy is temperamentally as well as logically 
fundamental with Bonaventura. 

Here then was a first general quality of mediaeval 


thought : deference to authority. Now for the variances. 
Scarcely diverging, save in emphasis, from Augustine and 
Bonaventura, are the greatest of the schoolmen, Albert and 
Thomas. They defer to authority and recognize the primacy 
of faith, and yet they will, with abundant use of reason, 
deliminate the respective provinces of grace and human 
knowledge, and distinguish the absolute authority of Scrip- 
ture from the statements even of the saints, which may be 
weighed and criticized. In secular philosophy, these two 
will, when their faith admits, accept the views of the 
philosophers — Aristotle above all — yet using their own 
reason. They are profoundly interested in knowledge and 
metaphysical dialectic, but follow it with deferential tempers 
and believing Christian souls. 

Outside the company! of such, are men of more inde- 
pendent temper, whose attitude tends to weaken the principle 
of acceptance of authority in sacred doctrine. The first of 
these was Eriugena with his explicit statement that reason 
is greater than authority ; yet we may assume that he was 
not intending to impugn Scripture. Centuries later another 
chief example is Abaelard, whose dialectic temper leads him 
to wish to prove everything by reason. Not that he stated, 
or would have admitted this ; yet the extreme rationalizing 
tendency of the man is projected through such a passage 
as the following from his Historia calamitatum, where he 
alludes to the circumstances of the composition of his work 
upon the Trinity. He had become a monk in the monastery 
of St. Denis, but students were still thronging to hear him, 
to the wrath of some of his superiors. 

" Then it came about that I was brought to expound the very 
foundation of our faith by applying the analogies of human reason, 
and was led to compose for my pupils a theological treatise on 
the divine Unity and Trinity. They were calling for human and 
philosophical arguments, and insisting upon something intelli- 
gible, rather than mere words, saying that there had been more 
than enough of talk which the mind could not follow ; that it 
was impossible to believe what was not understood in the first 
place ; and that it was ridiculous for any one to set forth to 
others what neither he nor they could rationally conceive 
{intellectu caper e)." 


And Abaelard cites the verse from Matthew about the 
bHnd leaders of the bhnd, and goes on to tell of the success 
of his treatise, which pleased everybody, yet provoked the 
greater envy because of the difficulty of the questions which 
it elucidated ; and at last envy blew up the condemnation 
of his book, at the Council of Soissons, in the year of grace 

Here one has the plain reversal. We must first under- 
stand in order to believe. Doubtless the demands of 
Abaelard's students to have the principles of the Christian 
Faith explained, that they might be understood and accepted 
rationally, echoed the master's imperative intellectual need. 
Not that Abaelard would breathe the faintest doubt of these 
verities ; they were absolute and unquestionable. He 
accepted them upon authority just as implicitly (he might 
think) as St. Bernard. Herein he shows the mediaeval 
quality of deference. But he will understand with his mind 
the profoundest truths enunciated by authority ; he will 
explain them rationally, that the mind may rationally 
comprehend them. 

Men of an opposite cast of mind foresaw the outcome of 
this rationalization of dogma more surely than the subtle 
dialectician for whom this process was both peremptory and 
proper. And the Church acted with a true instinct in 
condemning Abaelard in spite of his protestations of belief, 
just as with a like true instinct Friar Bacon's own Franciscan 
Order looked askance on one whose mind was suspiciously set 
upon observation and experiment — and cavilling at others. 
Ceci tuera cela ! The ultra-scientific spirit is dangerous to 
faith — and Bacon's asseverations that no knowledge was of 
value save as it helped the soul's salvation, was doubtless 
regarded as a conventional insincerity. Yet Roger Bacon 
had his mediaeval deferences, as will appear.^ 

Neither one extreme view nor the other was to represent 
the attitude of thoughtful and believing Christendom ; not 
William of St. Thierry and St. Bernard, nor yet (on these 
points) Abaelard and Friar Bacon should prevail ; but the 
all-balancing and all-considering Aquinas. He will draw the 

^ Historia calamitatum, cap. 9 and 10. Cf. post, p. 333. 
2 Post, Chapter XLII. 


lines between faith and reason, and bulwark them with 
arguments which shall seem to render unto reason the things 
of reason, and unto faith its due. Yet it is actually Roger 
Bacon who accuses Thomas of making his Theology out of 
dialectic and very human reasonings. It was true ; and we 
are again reminded how variant views shaded into each other 
in the Middle Ages, and all within certain lines of similarity. 
Practically all mediaeval thinkers defer to authority — more 
or less ; and all hold to some principle of faith, to the neces- 
sity of believing something, for the soul's salvation. There is 
likewise some similarity in their attitudes toward intellectual 
interests. For all recognized their propriety, and gave credit 
to the human desire to know. Likewise all saw that salva- 
tion, the summum honum for man, included more than 
intellection ; and felt that it held some consummation of 
other human impulses ; that it held love — the love of God 
along with the intellectual ardour of contemplation ; and 
well-nigh all recognized also that the faith held mystery, not 
to be solved by reason. Thus all were rational — some more, 
some less ; and all were devotional and believing, pietistic, 
ardent — some more, some less ; according as the intellectual 
nature dominated the emotional, or the emotions quelled 
the conscious exercise of reason, yet reached out and upward 
from what knowledge and reason had given as a base to 
spring from. 

Thus the mediaeval spirit, variant within its lines of like- 
ness ; and of a piece with it was the field it worked in, which 
made its range and scope. Here as well, a saving know- 
ledge of God and the soul was central and chief among 
all intellectual interests. None denied this. Augustine, the 
universal prototype of the mediaeval mind, had cried, " God 
and the soul, these will I know, and these are all." But wide 
had been the scope of his knowledge of God and the soul ; 
and in the centuries which hung upon his words, wide also 
was the range of knowledge subsumed under those capitals. 
How would one know God and the soul ? Might one not 
know God in all His universe, in the height and breadth 
thereof, and backwards and forwards through the reach of 
time ? Might not one also know the soul in all its operations, 
all its queries and desires ; would not it and they, and their 


activities, make up the complementary side of knowledge — 
complementary to the primal object, God, known in His 
eternity, in His temporal creation, in His everlasting govern- 
ance ? Wide or narrow might be the intellectual interests 
included within a knowledge of God and the soul. And while 
many men kept close to the centre and saving nexus of these 
potentially universal themes, others might become absorbed 
with data of the creature-world, or with the manifold actions 
of the mind of man, so as to forget to keep all duly ordered 
and connected with the central thought. 

So the search for knowledge might roam afield. Like- 
wise as to its motive ; practically with many men it was, in 
itself, a joy and end ; although they might continue to 
connect this end formally with the salvation of the soul. 
Roger Bacon of a surety was such a one. Another was 
Albertus Magnus. The laborious culling of twenty tomes 
of universal knowledge surely had the joy of knowing as the 
active motive. And Aquinas too ; no one could be such an 
acquisitive and reasoning genius, without the love of know- 
ledge in his soul. Yet Thomas never let this love point 
untrue to its goal of research and devotion, to wit, sacred 
doctrine, theology, the Christian Faith in its very widest 
compass, yet in its unity of saving purpose. 

In Thomas Aquinas the certitude of faith, the sense of 
grace, the ardour of love, never quenched the conscious 
action of the reasoning and knowing mind ; nor did reason- 
ing quench devotion. A balance too, though perhaps 
with one scale higher than the other, was kept by 
Bonaventura, whose mind had reason's faculty, but whose 
heart burned perpetually toward God. Another rationally 
ardent soul was Bonaventura's intellectual forerunner, Hugo 
of St. Victor. In these men intellect did not outstrip the 
fervours of contemplation. But such cathoHc balance did 
not hold with Abaelard and Bacon, who lacked the pietistic 
temperament. With others, conversely, the strength of the 
pietistic and emotional nature overbore the intellect ; the 
mind was less exacting ; and devotional ardour used reason 
solely for its purposes. The mightiest of these were Bernard 
and Francis. To the same key might chime the woman, St. 
Hildegard of Bingen. We narrow down from these to 


hectic souls content with a few thoughts which serve as a 
basis for the heart's fervours. 

The varying attitudes of mediaeval thinkers toward 
reason and authority, and even their different views upon 
the limits of the field of salutary knowledge, are exemplified 
in their methods, or rather in the variations of their 
common method. Here the factors were again authority 
and the intellect which considers the authority, and in 
terms of its own rational processes reacts upon the pro- 
position under view. The intellect might simply accept 
authority ; or, on the other hand, it might, through dialectic, 
\ seek a conclusion of its own. But midway between a mere 
acceptance of authority and the endeavour of dialectic for 
its own conclusion, there is the reasoning process which 
perceives divergence among authorities, compares, dis- 
criminates, interprets, and at last acts as umpire. This 
was the combined and catholic scholastic method. It 
contained the two factors of its necessary duality ; and its 
variations (besides the gradual perfecting of its form from 
one generation to another) consisted in the predominant 
employment of one factor or the other. 

The beginning was in the Carolingian time, when 
Rabanus compiled his authorities from sources sacred and 
profane, scarcely discriminating except to maintain the 
pre-eminence of the sacred matter. His younger con- 
temporary, Eriugena, was a translator of his own chief 
source, Pseudo-Dionysius, him of the Hierarchies, Celestial 
and Ecclesiastical. Yet he composed also a veritable book, 
De divisione naturae, in which he put his matter together 
organically and with argument. And while professing to 
hold to the authority of Scripture and the Fathers, he not 
only took upon himself to select from their statements, but 
propounded the proposition that the authority which is not 
confirmed by reason appears weak. Eriugena made his 
authorities 3deld him what his reason required. His 
argumentative method became an independent rehandling of 
matter drawn from them. It was very different from the 
plodding excerpt-gathering of Rabanus. 

We pass down the centuries to Anselm. Contemplative 
and religious, his reverence for authority was unimpaired by 


any conscious need to refashion its meaning. Though he 
possessed creative intellectual powers, they were incited and 
controlled by his deep piety. Hence his works were con- 
structed of original and lofty arguments, but such as did not 
infringe upon either the efficient or the final priority of 

With Abaelard of many-sided fame the duality of 
method becomes explicit, and is, if one may say so, set by 
the ears. On the one hand, he advances in his constructive 
theological treatises toward a portentous application of 
reason to explain the contents of the Christian Faith ; on 
the other, somewhat sardonically, he devises a scheme for 
the employment and presentation of authorities upon these 
sacred matters, a scheme so obviously apt that, once made 
known, it could not but be followed and perfected. 

The divers works of a man are likely to bear some 
relation and resemblance to each other. Abaelard was a 
reasoner, more specifically speaking, a dialectician according 
to the ways of -Aristotelian logic. And in categories of 
formal logic he sought to rationalize every matter appre- 
hended by his mind. Swayed by the master-interest of the 
time, he turned to theology ; and his own nature impelled 
him to apply a constructive dialectic to its systematic 
formulation. The result is exemplified in the extant portion 
of his Theologia (mis-called Introductio ad Theologiam) , which 
WcLS condemned by the Council of Sens in 1141, the year 
before the master's death. The spirit of this work appears 
in the passage already quoted from the Historia calamitatum, 
referring to what was substantially an earlier form of the 
Theologia} The Theologia argues for a free use of dialectic 
in expounding dogma, especially in order to refute those 
heretics who will not listen to authority, but demand reasons. 
Like Abaelard' s previous theological treatises, it is filled with 
citations of authority, principally Augustine ; and the reader 
feels the author's hesitancy to reveal that dialectic is the 
architect. Nor, in fact, is the work an exclusively dialectic 
structure ; yet it illustrates (if it does not always inculcate) 

^ Ante, p. 329. I cannot avoid referring to Abaelard several times before 
considering the man and his work more specifically, and in the proper place ; 
post. Chapter XXXVII., i. Of. Grabmaim, Ges. der schol. Methode, ii. pp. 
168 sqq. 


the application of the arguments of human reason to the 
exposition and substantiation of the fundamental and most 
deeply hidden contents of the Christian Faith. Obviously 
Abaelard was not an initiator here. Augustine had devoted 
his life to fortifying the Faith with argument and explanation ; 
Eriugena, with a far weaker realization of its contents, had 
employed a more distorting metaphysics in its presentation ; 
and saintly Anselm had flown his veritable eagle flights of 
reason. But Abaelard' s more systematic work represents a 
further stage in the application of independent dialectic to 
dogma, and an innovating freedom in the citation of pagan 
philosophers to demonstrate its philosophic reasonableness. 
Nevertheless, his statement that he had gathered these 
citations from writings of the Fathers, and not from the 
books of the philosophers [quorum pauca novi)} shows that 
he was only using what the Fathers had made use of before 
him, and also indicates the slightness of his independent 
knowledge of Greek philosophy. 

On the other hand, Abaelard's way of presenting 
authorities for and against a theological proposition was 
more distinctly original. He seems to have been the first 
purposefully to systematize the method of stating the 
problem, and then giving in order the authorities on one side 
and the other — sic ef non ; as he entitled his famous work. 
But the trail of his nature lay through this apparently 
innocent composition, the evident intent of which was to 
emphasize, if not exaggerate, the opposition among the 
patristic authorities, and without a counterbalancing attempt 
to show any substantial accord among them. This, of 
course, is not stated in the Prologue, which, however, like 
everything that Abaelard wrote, discloses his fatal facility 
of putting his hand on the raw spot in the matter ; which 
unfortunately is likely to be the vulnerable point also. In 
it he remarks on the difficulty of interpreting Scripture, 
upon the corruption of the text (a perilous subject), and the 
introduction of apocryphal writings. There are discrepancies 
even in the sacred texts, and contradictions in the writings 
of the Fathers. With a profuse backing of authority he 
shows that the latter are not to be read cum credendi neces- 

^ Introductio ad theologiam, lib. ii. (Migne 178, col. 1039). 


sitate, but cum judicandi libertate. Assuredly, as to any- 
thing in the canonical Scriptures, "it is not permitted to 
say : ' The Author of this book did not hold the truth ' ; but 
rather ' the codex is false or the interpreter errs, or thou 
dost not understand.' But in the works of the later ones 
{posteriorum, Abaelard's inclusive designation of the Fathers), 
which are contained in books without number, if passages 
are deemed to depart from the truth, the reader is at liberty 
to approve or disapprove." 

This view was supported by Abaelard's citations from 
the Fathers themselves ; and yet, so abruptly made, it was 
not a pleasant statement for the ears of those to whom the 
writings of the holy Fathers were sacred. Nothing was 
sacred to the man who wrote this prologue — so it seemed to 
his pious contemporaries. And who among them could 
approve of the Prologue's final utterance upon the method 
and purpose of the book ? 

" Wherefore we decided to collect the diverse statements of 
the holy Fathers, as they might occur to our memory, thus raising 
an issue from their apparent repugnancy, which might incite the 
teneros lectores to search out the truth of the matter, and render 
them the sharper for the investigation. For the first key to 
wisdom is called interrogation, diligent and unceasing. . . . By 
doubting we are led to inquiry ; and from inquiry we perceive 
the truth." 

To use the discordant statements of the Fathers to 
sharpen the wits of the young ! Was not that to uncover 
their shame ? And the character of the work did not 
salve the Prologue's sting. Abaelard selected and arranged 
his extracts from pagan as well as Christian writers, and 
prepared sardonic titles for the questions under which he 
ordered his material. Time and again these titles flaunt an 
opposition which the citations scarcely bear out. For 
example, title iv. : " Quod sit credendum in Deum solum, et 
contra " — certainly a flaming point ; yet the excerpts display 
merely the verb credere, used in the palpably different senses 
borne by the word " believe." There is no real repugnancy 
among the citations. And again, in title Iviii. : " Quod 
Adam salvatus sit, et contra " — there is no citation contra. 
And the longest chapter in the book (cxvii.) has this 


bristling title : " De sacramento altaris, quod sit essentialiter 
ipsa Veritas camis Christi et sanguinis, et contra." 

Because of such prickly traits the Sic et non did not 
itself come into common use. But the suggestions of its 
method once made, were of too obvious utility to be 
abandoned. First, among Abaelard's own pupils the result 
appears in Books of Sentences, which, in the arrangement of 
their matter, followed the topical division not of the Sic et 
non, but of Abaelard's Theologia, with its threefold division 
of Theology into Fides, Caritas, and Sacramentum} But the 
arrangement of the Theologia was not made use of in the 
best and most famous of these compositions, Peter Lom- 
bard's Sententiarum libri quatuor. This work employed the 
method (not the arrangement) of the Sic et non, and 
expounded the contents of Faith methodically, " Distinctio " 
after " Distinctio," stating the proposition, citing the 
authorities bearing upon it, and ending with some con- 
ciliating or distinguishing statement of the true result. ^ In 
canon law the same method was applied in Gratian's 
Decretum, of which the proper name was Concordia 
discordantium canonum. 

These Books of Sentences have sometimes been called 
Summae, inasmuch as their scope embraced the entire 
contents of the Faith. But the term Summa may properly 
be confined to those larger and still more encyclopaedic 
compositions in which this scholastic method reached its 
final development. The chief makers of these, the veritable 
Summae theologiae, were, in order of time, Alexander of 
Hales, Albertus Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas. The Books 
of Sentences were books of sentences. The Summa pro- 
ceeded by the same method, or rather issued from it, 
as its consummation and perfect logical form ; thus the 

^ See Denifle, " Die Sentenzen Abaelard's und die Bearbeitiingen seiner 
Theologia," Archiv fur Literatur und Kirchengeschichte, i. p. 402 sqq. and p. 584 sqq. 
Also Picavet, " Abelard et Alexander de Hales, createurs de la methode schol- 
astique," Bib. de Vlcole des hautes Itudes, sciences religieuses, t. vii. p. 221 sqq. 

^ For certain other precursors of the Lombard see ante, Vol. I. p. 106, note i. 
He also used the Hrjyr] yvdiaeuis of John of Damascus (eighth century). This 
" Spring of Knowledge " was made up from the writings of the Greek Fathers, 
and is still an authoritative handbook of dogma for the Eastern church. In a 
Latin translation it afforded a model for the Lombard to follow or depart from, 
and also influenced Aquinas. Cf. Grabmaun, Ges. der schol. Methode, i. p. 108 
sqq. ; ii. p. 128 sqq. 


scholastic method arrived at its highest constructive energy. 
In the Sentences one excerpted opinion was given and 
another possibly divergent, and at the end an adjustment 
was presented. This comparative formlessness attains in the 
Summa a serried syllogistic structure. Thomas, who finally 
perfects it, presents his connected and successive topics 
divided into quaestiones, which are subdivided into articuli, 
whose titles give the point to be discussed. He states first, 
and frequently in his own syllogistic terms, the successive 
negative arguments ; and then the counter-proposition, 
which usually is a citation from Scripture or from Augustine. 
Then with clear logic he constructs the true positive conclusion 
in accordance with the authority which he has last adduced. 
He then refutes each of the adverse arguments in turn. 

Thus the method of the Sentences is rendered dialectic- 
ally organic ; and with the perfecting of the form of quaestio 
and articulus, and the logical linking of successive topics, 
the whole composition, from a congeries, becomes a structure, 
organic likewise, a veritable Summa, and a Summa of a 
science which has unity and consistency. This science is 
sacra doctrina, theologia. Moreover, as compared with the 
Sentences, the contents of the Summa are enormously en- 
larged. For between the time of the Lombard and that of 
Thomas, there has come the whole of Aristotle, and what is 
more, the mastery of the whole of Aristotle, which Thomas 
incorporates in a complete and organic statement of the 
Christian scheme of salvation.^ 

^ Two extracts, one from the Sentences and one from the Summa, touching 
the same matter, will illustrate the stage in the scholastic process reached by 
Peter Lombard, about the year 1150, and that attained by Thomas Aquinas a 
hvmdred years later. 

The Lombard's Four Books of Sentences are divided into Distinctiones, with 
sub-titles to the latter. Distinctio xlvi. of the first Book bears the general title : 
" The opinion (sententia) declaring that the will of God which is himself, cannot 
be frustrated, seems to be opposed by some opinions." The first subdivision of 
the text begins : " Here the question rises. For it is said by the authorities 
above adduced [the preceding Distinctio had discussed " The will of God which 
is His essence, one and eternal "] that the wUl of God, which is himself, and is 
called His good pleasure (beneplacitum) cannot be frustrated, because by that 
will fecit quaecumque voluit in caelo et in terra, which — witness the Apostle — 
nihil resistit. [I leave the Scriptural quotations in Latin, so as to mark them.] 
It is queried, therefore, how one should understand what the Apostle says con- 
cerning the Lord, i Tim. 2 : Qui vult omnes homines salvos fieri. For since all 
are not saved, but many are damned, that which God wills to take place, seems 



not to take place (become, fieri), the human will obstructing the will of God. 
The Lord also in the Gospel reproaching the wicked city, Matt, xxiii., says : 
Quoties volui congregate filios tuos, sicut gallina congregat pullos suos sub alis, et 
noluisU. Thus it might seem from these, that the will of God may be overcome 
by the wUl of men, and, resisted by the unwillingness of the weakest, the Most 
Strong may prove unable to do what He willed. Where then is that omnipotence 
by which in coelo et terra, according to the Prophet, omnia quaecumque voluit fecit ? 
And how does nothing withstand His wUl, if He wished to gather the children of 
Jerusalem, and did not ? For these sayings seem indeed to oppose what has 
been stated." 

The second paragraph proceeds : " But let us see the solution, and first hear 
how what the Lord said should be imderstood. For it was not intended to mean 
(as Augustine says, Enchiridion, c. 97, solving this question) that the Lord wished 
to gather the children of Jerusalem, and did not do what He willed because she 
would not ; but rather she did not wish her children to be gathered by Him, 
yet in spite of her unwillingness [qua tamen nolente) He gathered all He willed of 
her children. . . . And the sense is : As many as I have gathered by my will, 
always effective, I have gathered, thou being tmwUling. Hence it is evident that 
these words of the Lord are not opposed to the authorities referred to." 

(Paragraph 3) " Now it remains to see how the aforesaid words do not con- 
tradict what the Apostle said of the Lord : Vult omnes homines salvos fieri. Because 
of these words many have wandered from the truth, saying that God willed 
many things which did not come to pass. But the saying is not thus to be under- 
stood, as if God wUled any to be saved, and they were not. For who can be so 
impiously foolish as to say that God cannot change the evil wills of men to good 
when and where He will ? Surely what is said in Psalm 113, Quaecumque voluit 
fecit, is not true, if He willed anything and did not accomplish it. Or, — (and 
this is still more shameful) for that reason He did not do it, because what the 
Omnipotent willed to come to pass, the will of man obstructed. Hence when 
we read in Holy Scripture velit omnes homines salvos fieri, we should not detract 
from the will of omnipotent God, but understand the text to mean that no man 
is saved except whom He wUls to be saved : not that there is no man whom 
He does not will to be saved, but that no man may be saved except whom He 
wills should be saved. . . . Thus also is to be imderstood the text from John i. : 
Illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum ; not as if there is no 
man who is not lighted, but that none is lighted save from Him. . . ." 

The next and fourth paragraph takes up the problem whether evil, that is sin, 
takes place by the wUl of God, or He imwUling (eo nolente). " As to this, divers 
men thinking diversely have been found in contradiction. For some say that 
God wills evils to be or become (esse vel fieri) yet does not wUl evils. But others 
say that He neither wills evils to be nor to become. Yet these and those agree in 
declaring that God does not will evils. Yet each with arguments as well as 
authorities strives to make good his assertion." We will not follow the Lombard 
through this thorny problem. He cuts his way with passages from his chief 
patristic authority, Augustine, and in the end concludes : " Leaving this and 
other like foolish opinions, and favouring the sounder view, which is more fully 
sanctioned by the testimonies of the Saints, we may say that God neither wills 
evils to become, nor wUls that they shoidd not become, nor yet is He imwilling 
(nolle) that they should become. All that He wills to become, becomes, and all 
that He wills not to become does not become. Yet many things become which 
He does not will to become, as every evil." 

Thus the Lombard. Now let us see how Thomas, in his Summa theologiae, 
Pars Prima, Quaestio xix. Articulus ix. expounds the point : utrum voluntas Dei 
sit malorum. 

" As to the ninth articulus thus one proceeds, (i) It seems [Videtur, formula 
for stating the initial argmnent which will not be approved] that the will of God 


is [the cause] of evils. For God wUls every good that becomes (i.e. comes into 
existence). But it is good that evils should come ; for Augustine says in the 
Enchiridion : ' Although those things which are evUs, m so far as they are evils, 
are not goods ; yet it is good (bonum) that there should be not only goods [bona) 
but evils.' Therefore God wUls evils." 

" (2) Moreover [Praeterea, Thomas's regular formula for introducing the 
succeeding arguments, which he will not approve] Dionysius says, iv. cap. de 
divinis nominibus : ' There wUl be evil making for the perfection of the whole.' 
And Augustine says in the Enchiridion : ' Out of all (things) the admirable beauty 
of the universe arises ; wherein even that which is caUed evil, well ordered and 
set in its place, commends the good more highly ; since the good pleases more, 
and is the more praiseworthy, when compared with evil.' But God wills every- 
thing that pertains to the perfection and grace of the universe ; since this is what 
God chiefly wills in His creation. Therefore God wills evils." 

" (3) Moreover, the occurrence and non-occurrence of evils {mala fieri, et 
nan fieri) are contradictory opposites. But God does not will evUs not to occur ; 
because since some evils do occur, the will of God would not be fulfilled. Therefore 
God wUls evils to occur." 

" Sed contra est [Thomas's formula for stating the opinion which he will 
approve] what Augustine says in his book of Eighty-three Questions : ' No 
wise man is the author of man's deterioration ; yet God is more excellent than 
any wise man ; much less then, is God the author of any one's deterioration. 
But He is said to be the author when He is spoken of as wilHng anything. There- 
fore man becomes worse, God not willing it. But with every evil, some one 
becomes worse. Therefore God does not will evils.' " 

" Respondeo dicendum quod [Thomas's formula for commencing his elucidation] 
since the reason (or ground or cause, ratio) of the good is likewise the reason of 
the desirable (as discussed previously), evil is opposed to good : it is impossible 
that any evil, as evil, should be desired, either by the natural appetite or the 
animal, or the intellectual, which is will. But some evil may be desired per 
accidens, in so far as it conduces to some good. And this is apparent m any 
appetite. For the natural impulse (agens naturale) does not aim at privation 
or destruction (corruptio) ; but at form, to which the privation of another form 
may be joined ; and at the generation of one, which is the destruction of another. 
Thus a lion, killing a stag, aims at food, to which is joined the Mlling of an animal. 
Likewise the fornicator aims at enjoyment, to which is joined the deformitv of 
guilt. ^ 

" Thus evil which is joined to some good, is privation of another good. Never, 
therefore, is evil desired, not even per accidens, unless the good to which the' 
evil is joined appears greater than the good which is annuUed through the evil. 
But God wUls no good more than His goodness ; yet He wills some one good 
more than some other good. Hence the evil of guilt, which destroys relationship 
to divine good (quod privat ordinem ad bonum divinum), God in no way wills. 
But the evil of natural defect, or the evil of penalty. He wOls in willing some good 
to which such evil is joined ; as, in willing righteousness. He wills penalty ; and in 
willing that the order of nature be preserved. He wills certain natural corruptions. 

"Ad primum ergo dicendum [Thomas's formula for commencing his reply to 
the first false argument] that certain ones have said that although God does not 
will evils. He wills evils to be or become : because, although evils are not goods, 
yet it is good that evils should be or become. They said this for the reason that 
those things which are evU in themselves, are ordained for some good ; and they 
deemed this ordainment involved in saying bonum est mala esse vel fieri. Bui 
that is not said rightly. Because evil is not ordained for good per se but per 
accidens. For it is beyond the sinner's intent that good should come of it ; just 
as it was beyond the intent of the tyrants that from their persecutions the patience 
of the martyrs should shine forth. And therefore it cannot be said that such 


ordainment for good is involved in saying that it is good for evil to be or become : 
because nothing is adjudged according to what pertains to it pet accidens but 
according to what pertains to it per se." 

" Ad secundum dicendum that evil is not wrought for the perfection or beauty 
of the whole except per accidens, as has been shown. Hence this which Dionysius 
says, that evil makes for the perfection of the whole, may lead to an illogical con- 

"Ad tertium dicendum that although the occiurrence and non-occurrence of 
evils are opposed as contradictories ; yet to will the occiurence and to wiU the 
non-occurrence of evUs, are not opposed as contradictories, since both one and 
the other are affirmative. God therefore neither wills the occurrence nor the 
non-occurrence of evils ; but wills to permit their occurrence. And this is good." 

As to matters discussed in this Chapter and in Chapter XXXVI., see 
generally the important work of M. Grabmann, Geschichte der scholastischen 
Methode (Freiburg i. B., vols. i. and ii., 1909, 191 1 ; vol. iii., on the fully 
developed scholasticism of the thirteenth century, has not appeared). As to 
the Lombard especially, see Grabmann, o.c, ii. p. 359 sqq. 



I. Philosophic Classification of the Sciences ; the Arrange- 
ment OF Vincent's Encyclopaedia, of the Lombard's 
Sentences, of Aquinas's Summa theologiae. 

n. The Stages of Development: Grammar, Logic, Meta- 


The problem of classification presented itself to Gerbert as 
one involved in the rational study of the ancient material,^ 
As scholasticism culminated in the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries, the problem became one of arrangement and 
presentation of the mass of knowledge and argument 
which the Middle Ages had at length made their own, and 
were prepared to re-express. This ordering was influenced 
by a twofold principle of classification ; for, as abundantly 
shown by Aquinas,^ theology in which all is ordered with 
reference to God, will properly follow an arrangement of 
topics quite unsuitable to the natural or human sciences, 
which treat of things with respect to themselves. But 
the mediaeval practice was more confused than the theory ; 
because the interest in human knowledge was apt to be 
touched by motives sounding in the need of divine salvation ; 
and speculation could not free itself from the moving 
principles of Christian theology. On the other hand, an 
enormous quantity of human dialectic, and a prodigious 
mass of what strikes us as profane information, or mis- 
information, was carried into the mediaeval Summa, and still 
more into those encyclopaedias which attempted to include 

^ Ante, Chapter XII. * Ante, pp. 319 sqq. 



all knowledge, and still were influenced in their aim by a 
religious purpose.^ 

As the human sciences came from the pagan antique, 
the accepted classifications of them naturally were taken 
from Greek philosophy. They followed either the so-called 
Platonic division, into Physics, Ethics, and Logic,^ or the 
Aristotelian division of philosophy into theoretical and 
practical. The former scheme, of which it is not certain 
that Plato was the author, passed on through the Stoic and 
Epicurean systems of philosophy, was recognized by the 
Church Fathers, and received Augustine's approval. It was 
made known to the Middle Ages through Cassiodorus, 
Isidore, Alcuin, Rabanus, Eriugena, and others. 

Nevertheless the Aristotelian division of philosophy into 
theoretical and practical was destined to prevail. It was 
introduced to the western Middle Ages through Boethius's 
Commentary on Porphyry's Isagoge,^ and adopted by 
Gerbert ; later it passed over through translations of Arabic 
writings. It was accepted by Hugo of St. Victor, by 
Albertus Magnus and by Thomas, to mention only the 
greatest names ; and was set forth in detail with explanation 
and comment in a number of treatises, such as Gundissalinus's 
De divisione philosophiae, and Hugo of St. Victor's Eruditio 
didascalica,^ which were formal and schematic introductions 
to the study of philosophy and its various branches. 

The usual subdivisions of these two general parts of 
philosophy were as follows. Theoretica (or Theorica) was 
divided into (i) Physics, or scientia naturalis, (2) Mathematics, 
and (3) Metaphysics or Theology, or divina scientia, as it 
might be called. Physics and Mathematics were again 
divided into more special sciences. Practica was divided 
commonly into Ethics, Economics, Politics, or into Ethics 
and Artes mechanicae. There was a difference of opinion as 

1 The Speculum majus of Vincent of Beauvais will afford the principal example 
of the resulting hybrid arrangement. 

2 Ludwig Baur, Dominicus Gundissalinus, De divisione philosophiae (Baeumker's 
Beitrdge, Miinster, 1903), p. 193 sqq., to which I am indebted for what I have 
to say in the next few pages. Cf. Grabmann, o.c, ii. p. 28 sqq. 

' Migne, Pat. Lot. 64, col. 10 sqq. 

* These works were written near the middle of the twelfth century. Gundis- 
salinus was Archdeacon of Segovia and drew upon Arab writings. 


to what to do with Logic. It had, to be sure, its position in 
the current Trivium, along with grammar and rhetoric. But 
this was merely current, and might not approve itself on 
deeper reflection. Gundissalinus speaks of three propae- 
deutic sciences, the scientiae eloquentiae, grammar, poetics, 
and rhetoric, and then puts Logic after them as a scientia media 
between these primary educational matters and philosophy, 
i.e. the whole range of knowledge, theoretical and practical. 
Again, over against philosophia realis, which contains both 
the theoretica (or speculativa) and the practica, Thomas 
Aquinas sets the philosophia rationalis, or logic ; and Richard 
Kilwardby opposes logica, the scientia rationalis, to practica, 
in his division.^ 

This last-named philosopher was the pupil and then the 
hostile critic of Aquinas, and also became Archbishop of 
Canterbury. He was the author of a careful and elaborate 
classification of the parts of philosophy, entitled De ortu et 
divisione philosophiae.^ In it, following the broad distinction 
between res divinae and res humanae, Kilwardby divides 
philosophy into speculativa and practica. Speculativa is 
divided into naturalis (physics), mathematica, and divina 
(metaphysics). He does not divide the first and third of 
these ; but he divides mathematica into those sciences which 
treat of quantity in continuity and separation respectively 
[quantitas continua and quantitas discreta). The former 
embrace geometry, astronomy and astrology, and perspec- 
tive ; the latter, music and arithmetic. Practica, which is 
concerned with res humanae, is divided into activa and 
sermocinalis : because res humanae consist either of opera- 
tiones or locutiones. The activa embraces Ethics and 
mechanics ; the scientia sermocinalis embraces grammar, 
logic, and rhetoric. Such are Kilwardby's bare captions ; 
his treatise lengthily treats of the interrelations of these 
various branches of knowledge. 

An idea of the scholastic discussion of the classification 
of sciences may be had by following Albertus Magnus's 
ponderous approach to a consideration of logic : whether it 

^ See L. Baiir, Gundissalinus, etc., p. 376 sqq. 

^ The treatise is not printed. Its captions are given by L. Baur in his Gundis- 
salinus, pp. 368-375, from which I have borrowed what I give of them. 


be a science, and, if so, what place should be allotted it. 
We draw from the opening of his liber on the Predicdbles} 
that is to say, his exposition of Porphyry's Introduction. 
Albert will consider " what kind of a science {qualis scientia) 
logic may be, and whether it is any part of philosophy ; what 
need there is of it, and what may be its use ; then of what 
it treats, and what are its divisions." The ancients seem 
to have disagreed, some saying that logic is no science, since 
it is rather a modus (mode, manner or method) of every 
science or branch of knowledge. But these, continues 
Albertus, have not reflected that although there are many 
sciences, and each has its special modus, yet there is one 
modus common to all sciences, pertaining to that which is 
common to them all : the principle, to wit, that through 
reason's inquiry, from what is known one arrives at know- 
ledge of the unknown. This mode or method, common 
to every science, may be considered in itself, and so may be 
the subject of a special science. After further balancing of 
the reasons and authorities pro and con, Albertus concludes : 

" It is therefore clear that logic is a special science just as in 
ironworking there is the special art of making a hammer, yet its 
use pertains to everything made by the ironworker's craft. So 
this process of discovering the unknown through the known, is 
something special, and may be studied as a special art and science; 
yet the use of it pertains to all sciences." 

He next considers whether logic is a part of philosophy. 
Some say no, since there are (as they say) only three divisions 
of philosophy, physics, mathematics, and metaphysics ; 
others say that logic is a modus of philosophy and not one of 
its divisions. But, on the contrary, it is shown by others 
that this view of philosophy omits the practical side, for 
philosophy's scope comprehends the truth of everything 
which man may understand, including the truth of that 
which is in ourselves, and strives to comprehend both truth 
and the process of advancing from the known to a knowledge 
of the unknown. These point out that 

^ Liber de praedicahilibus (tome i. of Albertus's works), which in scholastic 
logic means the five " universals," genus, species, difference, property, accident 
(also called the quinque voces), discussed in Porphyry's Introduction to the Cate- 
gories. The Categories themselves are called praedicamenta. 


"... the Peripatetics divided philosophy first into three parts, 
to wit, into physicam generaliier dictam, and ethicam generaliter 
dictum, and rationalem Ukewise taken broadly. I call physica 
generaliter dicta that which embraces scientia naturalis, discip- 
linalis, and divina {i.e. physics in a narrower sense, mathematics 
which is called scientia disciplinalis, and metaphysics which is 
scientia divina). And I call ethica, that which, broadly taken, 
contains the scientia monastica, oeconomica and civilis. And I 
call that the scientia rationalis, broadly taken, which includes 
every mode of proceeding from the known to the unknown. 
From which it is evident that logic is a part of philosophy." 

And finally it may be shown that 

" if anything is within the scope of philosophy it must be that 
without which philosophy cannot reach any knowledge. He who 
is ignorant of logic can acquire no perfect cognition of the un- 
known, because he is ignorant of the way in which he should 
proceed from the known to the unknown." 

From these latter arguments, approved by him and in 
part stated as his own, Albertus advances to a classification 
of the parts of logic, which he makes to include rhetoric, 
poetics, and dialectic, and to be demonstrative, sophistical or 
disputatious, according to the use to which logic (broadly 
taken) is applied and the manner in which it may in each 
case proceed, in advancing from the known to some farther 
ascertainment or demonstration.^ Soon after this, in dis- 
cussing the subject of this science, Albertus points out how 
logic differs from rhetoric and poetics, although with them 
it may treat of sermo, or speech, and be called a scientia 
sermonalis ; for, unlike them, it treats of sermo merely as a 
means of drawing conclusions, and not in and for itself. 

From the purely philosophical division of the sciences 
we pass to the hybrid arrangement adopted by Vincent of 
Beauvais, who died in 1264. This man was a prodigious 
devourer of books, and for a sufficient pabulum, St. Louis 
set before him his collection of twelve hundred volumes. 
Thereupon Vincent compiled the most famous of mediaeval 
encyclopaedias, employing in that labour enormous diligence 
and a number of assistants. His ponderous Speculum majus 

^ The above gives the arguments of chapters i. and ii. of the work. One 
notices that Albertus in this exposition of the subject of Porphyry's treatise, is 
using the method which Thomas brings to syllogistic perfection in his Summa. 


is drawn from the most serviceable sources, including the 
works of Albertus, his contemporary, and great scholastics 
like Hugo of St. Victor, who were no more. It consisted 
of the speculum naturale, doctrinale, and historiale ; and 
a fourth, the Speculum morale, was added by a later hand.^ 
Turning its leaves, and reading snatches here and there, 
especially from its Prologues, we shall gain a sufficient 
illustration of the arrangement of topics followed by this 
writer, whose faculties seem to drown in his shoreless 
undertaking. 2 

In his turgid generalis prologus to the Speculum naturale, 
Vincent presents his motives for collecting in one volume. 

"... certain flowers according to my modicum of faculty, 
gathered from every one I have been able to read, whether of 
our Catholic Doctors or the Gentile philosophers and poets. 
Especially have I drawn from them what seemed to pertain either 
to the building up of our dogma, or to moral instruction, or to 
the incitement of charity's devotion, or to the mystic exposition 
of divine Scripture, or to the manifest or symbolical explanation 
of its truth. Thus by one grand opus I would appease my 
studiousness, and perchance, by my labours, profit those who, 
like me, try to read as many books as possible, and cull their 
flowers. Indeed of making many books there is no end, and 
neither is the eye of the curious reader satisfied, nor the ear of 
the auditor." 

He then refers to the evils of false copying and the 
ascription of extracts to the wrong author. And it seems to 
him that Church History has been rather neglected, while 
men have been intent on expounding knotty problems. 
And now considering how to proceed and group his various 
matters, Vincent could find no better method than the one 
he has chosen, "to wit, that after the order of Holy Scripture, 

^ It was printed, more than once, in the late fifteenth century ; the most 
readable edition is that printed at Douai in 1624, in four huge folios. 

^ Boimdless as the work appears, neither in mental powers, nor learning, nor 
in massiveness of achievement, is its author to be compared with Albertus Magnus. 
The De universo of Rabanus Maurus, Migne in, col. 9-612, is in its arrangement 
and method a forerunner of Vincent's Speculum. Later predecessors were the 
English Franciscan Bartolomaeus, whose encyclopaedic De proprieiatibus rerum 
was written a little before the middle of the twelfth century (see Felder, Studien 
in Franciscanerorder, etc., pp. 251-253), and Lambertus Audomarensis (St. Omer) 
with his Liber floridus, a general digest of knowledge, historical, ecclesiastical, 
and natural, taken from many writers, an account of which is given in Migne 
163, col. 1004 sqq. 


I should treat first of the Creator, next of the creation, then 
of man's fall and reparation, and then of events {rebus 
gestis) chronologically." He proposes to give a summary 
of titles at the end of the work. Sometimes he may state 
as his own, things he has had from his teachers or from very 
well-known books ; and he admits that he did not have time 
to collate the gesta martyrum, and so some of the abstracts 
which he gives of these are not by his own hand, but by the 
hand of scribes {notariorum) . 

Vincent proposes to call the whole work Speculum 
majus, a Speculum indeed, or an Imago mundi, " containing 
in brief whatever, from unnumbered books, I have been able 
to gather, worthy of consideration, admiration, or imitation 
as to things which have been made or done or said in the visible 
or invisible world from the beginning until the end, and even 
of things to come." He briefly adverts to the utility of his 
work, and then gives his motive for including history. This 
he thinks will help us to understand the story of Christ ; 
and from a perusal of the wars which took place "before the 
advent of our pacific King, the reader will perceive with 
what zeal we should fight against our spiritual foes, for our 
salvation and the eternal glory promised us." From the 
great slaughter of men in many wars, may be realized also 
the severity of God against the wicked, who are slain like 
sheep, and perish body and soul.^ 

As to nature, Vincent says : 

" Moreover I have diligently described the nature of things, 
which, I think, no one will deem useless, who, in the light of 
grace, has read of the power, wisdom and goodness of God, 
creator, ruler and preserver, in that same book of the Creation 
appointed for us to read." 

Moreover, to know about things is useful for preachers 
and theologians, as Augustine says. But Vincent is 
conscious of another motive also : 

" Verily how great is even the humblest beauty of this world, 
and how pleasing to the eye of reason diligently considering not 
only the modes and numbers and orders of things, so decorously 

1 Here, of course, we have the hands of Esau, but the voice of Augustine and 
Orosius ! 


appointed throughout the universe, but also the revolving ages 
which are ceaselessly uncoiled through abatements and succes- 
sions, and are marked by the death of what is bom. I confess, 
sinner as I am, with mind befouled in flesh, that I am moved 
with spiritual sweetness toward the creator and ruler of this 
world, and honour Him with greater veneration, when I behold 
at once the magnitude, and beauty and permanence of His 
creation. For the mind, lifting itself from the dunghill of its 
affections, and rising, as it is able, into the light of speculation, 
sees as from a height the greatness of the universe containing in 
itself infinite places filled with the divers orders of creatures." 

Here Vincent feels it well to apologize for the limitless- 
ness of his matter, being only an excerptor, and not really 
knowing even a single science ; and he refers to the example 
of Isidore's Etymologiae. He proceeds to enumerate the 
various sources upon which he relies, and then to summarize 
the headings of his work ; which in brief are as follows : 

The Creator. 

The empyrean heaven and the nature of angels ; the state of 
the good, and the ruin of the proud, angels. 

The formless material and the making of the world, and the 
nature and properties of each created being, according to the 
order of the Works of the Six Days. 

The state of the first man. 
• The nature and energies of the soul, and the senses and parts 
of the human body. 

God's rest and way of working. 

The state of the first man and the felicity of Paradise. 

Man's fall and punishment. 


The reparation of the Fall. 

The properties of faith and other virtues in order, and the 
gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the beatitudes. 

The number and matter of all the sciences. 

Chronological history of events in the world, and memorable 
sayings, from the beginning to our time, with a consideration of the 
state of souls separated from their bodies, of the times to come, of 
Antichrist, the end of the World, the resurrection of the dead, the 
glorification of the saints and the punishments of the wicked. 

One may stand aghast at the programme. Yet practi- 
cally all of it would go into a Summa theologiae, excepting 
the human history, and the matter of what we should call 
the arts and sciences ! A programme like this might be 


handled summarily, according to the broad captions under 
which it is stated ; or it might be carried out in such detail 
as to include all available information, or opinion, touching 
every part of every topic included under these universal 
heads. The latter is Vincent's way. Practically he tries to 
include all knowledge upon everything. The first of his 
tomes (the Speculum naturale) is to be devoted to a full de- 
scription of the forms and species of created beings, which 
make up the visible world. Yet it includes much relating to 
beings commonly invisible ; for Vincent begins with a treat- 
ment of the angels. He then passes to a consideration of the 
seven heavens ; and then to the physical phenomena of 
nature ; then on to every known species of plant, the cultiva- 
tion of trees and vines, and the making of wine ; then to the 
celestial bodies, and after this to living things, birds, fishes, 
savage beasts, reptiles, the anatomy of animals, — and at last 
comes to man. He discusses him body and soul, his psycho- 
logy, and the phenomena of sleep and waking ; then human 
anatomy — ^nor can he keep from considerations touching the 
whole creation ; then human generation, and a description 
of the countries and regions of the earth, with a brief com- 
pendium of history until the time of Antichrist and the Last 
Judgment. Of course he is utterly uncritical, even the 
pseudo-Turpin's fictions as to Charlemagne serving him for 

Vincent's Prologue to his second tome, the Speculum 
doctrinale, briefly mentions the topics of the tola nafuralis 
historia, contained in his first giant tome. In that he had 
brought his matter down to God's creation of humana 
natura, omnium rerum finis ac summa — and its spoliation 
{destitutio) through sin. Humana natura as constituted by 
God, was a universitas of all nature or created being, corporeal 
and spiritual. Now 

" in this second part, in like fashion we propose to treat of the 
plenary restitution of that destitute nature. . . . And since that 
restitution, or restoration, is effected and perfected by doctrina 
(imparted knowledge, science), this part not improperly is called 
the Speculum doctrinale. For of a surety everything pertaining 
to recovering or defending man's spiritual or temporal welfare 
{salutem) is embraced under doctrina. In this book, the sciences 


(doctrinae) and arts are treated thus : First concerning all of them 
in general, to wit, concerning their invention, origin and species ; 
and concerning the method of acquiring them. Then concerning 
the singular arts and sciences in particular. And here first con- 
cerning those of the Trivium, which are devoted to language 
(grammar, rhetoric, logic) ; for without these, the others cannot 
be learned or communicated. Next concerning the practical 
ones {practica), because through them, the eyes of the mind being 
clarified, one ascends to the speculative {theonca). Then also 
concerning the mechanical ones ; since, as they consist in making 
(operatio), they are joined by affinity to the practica. Finally 
concerning the speculative sciences {theorica), because the end 
and aim (finis) of all the rest is placed by the wise in them. And 
since (as Jerome says) one cannot know the power (vis) of the 
antidote unless the power of the poison first is understood, there- 
fore to the reparatio doctrinalis of the human race, the subject of 
the book, something is prefixed as a brief epilogue from the 
former book, concerning the fall and misery of man, in which he 
still labours, as the penalty for his sin, in lamentable exile." 

So Vincent begins with the fall and misery of man ; 
the peccatum and the supplicium. Then he proceeds to 
discuss the goods (bona) which God bestows, like the mental 
powers by which man may learn wisdom, and how to strive 
against error and vice, and be overcome solely by the desire 
of the highest and immutable good. He speaks also of the 
corporeal goods bestowed on man, and the beauty and 
utility of visible things ; and then of the principal evils ; — 
ignorance which corrupts the divine image in man, concupis- 
cence which destroys the divine similitude, sickness which 
destroys his original bodily immortality. ' ' And the remedies 
are three by which these three evils may be repelled, and 
the three goods restored, to wit. Wisdom, Virtue, and Need." 

Here we touch the gist of the ordering of {topics in the 
Speculum doctrinale, which treats of all the arts and 
sciences : 

" For the obtaining of these three remedies every art and every 
disciplina was invented. In order to gain Wisdom, Theorica was 
devised ; and Practica for the sake of virtue ; and for Need's sake, 
Mechanica. Theorica driving out ignorance, illuminates Wisdom ; 
Practica shutting out vice, strengthens Virtue ; Mechanica pro- 
viding against penury, tempers the infirmities of the present life. 
Theorica, in all that is and that is not, chooses to investigate the 


true. Practica determines the correct way of living and the 
form of discipline, according to the institution of the virtues. 
Mechanica, occupied with fleeting things, strives to provide for 
the needs of the body. For the end and aim of all human actions 
and studies, which reason regulates, ought to look either to the 
reparation of the integrity of our nature or to alleviating the 
needs to which hfe is subjected. The integrity of our nature is 
repaired by Wisdom, to which Theorica relates, and by Virtue, 
which Practica cultivates. Need is alleviated by the administra- 
tion of temporahties, to which Mechanica attends. Last found 
of all is Logic, source of eloquence, through which the wise who 
understand the aforesaid principal sciences and disciplines, may 
discourse upon them more correctly, truly and elegantly ; more 
correctly, through Grammar ; more truly, through Dialectic ; 
more elegantly, through Rhetoric." ^ 

Thus the entire round of arts and sciences is connected 
with man's corporeal and spiritual welfare, and is made to 
bear directly or indirectly on his salvation. All constitutes 
doctrina, and by doctrina man is saved. This is the reason 
for including the arts and sciences in one tome, rightly called 
the Speculum doctrinale. We need not follow the detail, but 
may view as from afar the long course ploughed by Vincent 
through his matter. He first sketches the history of antique 
philosophy, and then turns to books and language, and 
presents a glossary of Latin synonyms. Book II. treats of 
Grammar, Book III. of Logic, Book IV. of Practica scientia 
or Ethica, first giving pagan ethics and then passing on to 
the virtues of the monastic life. Book V. is a continuation 
of this subject. Book VI. concerns the Scientia oeconomica, 
treating of domestic economy, then of agriculture. Books 
VII. and VIII. take up Politica, and, having discussed 
political institutions, proceed to a treatment of law — the law 
of persons, things, and actions, according to the canon and 
the civil law. Books IX. and X. consider Crimes — simony, 
heresy, perjury, sacrilege, homicide, rape, adultery, robbery, 
usury. Book XL is more cheerful, De arte mechanica, and 
tells of building, the military art, navigation, alchemy, and 
metals. Book XII. is Medicine, and Books XIII. and XIV. 
discuss Physics, in connection with the healing art. Book 
XV. is Natural Philosophy — animals and plants. Book 

^ The above is from cap. 9 of liber i. of the Speculum doctrinale. 


XVI., De mathematica, treats of arithmetic, music, geometry, 
astronomy, and metaphysics cursorily. Book XVII. like- 
wise thins out in a somewhat slight discussion of Theology, 
which was to form the topic of the tome that Vincent did not 

But Vincent did complete another tome, the Speculum 
historiale. It is a loosely chronological compilation of 
tradition, myth, and history, with discursions upon the 
literary works of the characters coming under review. It 
would be tedious to follow its excerpted presentation of 
the profane and sacred matter. 

We may leave Vincent, with the obvious reflection that 
his work is a conglomerate, both in arrangement and con- 
tents. It has the pious aim of contributing to man's salva- 
tion, and yet is an attempted universal encyclopaedia of 
human knowledge, much of which is plainly secular and 
mundane. The monstrous scope and dual purpose of the 
work prevented any unity in method and arrangement. 
More single in aim, and better arranged in consequence, are 
the Sentences of Peter Lombard and the Summa theologiae of 
Aquinas. For although their scope, at least the scope of the 
Summa, is wide, all is ordered with respect to the true aim of 
sacra doctrina, just as Thomas explained in the passage which 
we have already given. 

The alleged principle of the Lombard's division strikes 
one as curious ; yet he got it from Augustine : Signum and 
res — the symbol and the thing : verily an age-long play of 
spiritual tendency lay behind these contrasted concepts. 
Christian doctrina related, perhaps chiefly, to the significance 
of signa, signs, symbols, allegories, mysteries, sacraments. 
It was not so strange that the Lombard made this antithesis 
the ground of his arrangement. Quite as of course he 
begins by saying it is clear to any one who considers, with 
God's grace, that the " contents of the Old and New Law 
are occupied either with res or signa. For as the eminent 
doctor Augustine says in his Doctrina Christiana, all teaching 
is of things or signs ; but things are also learned through 
signs. Properly those are called res which are not employed 
in order to signify something ; while signa are those whose 
use is to signify." Then the Lombard separates the 


sacraments from other signa, because they not only signify, 
but also confer saving aid ; and he points out that evidently 
a signum is also some sort of a thing ; but not everything is 
a signum. He wiU treat first of res and then of signa. 

As to res, one must bear in mind, as Augustine says, 
that some things are to be enjoyed (fruendum), as from love 
we cleave to them for their own sake ; and others are to be 
used {utendum) as a means ; and stiU others to be both 
enjoyed and used. 

" Those which are to be enjoyed make us blessed {beatos) ; 
those which are to be used, aid us striving for blessedness. . . . 
We ourselves are the things which are both to be enjoyed and 
used, and also the angels and the saints. . . . The things which 
are to be enjoyed are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ; and so the 
Trinity is summa res." 

So the Lombard's first two Books consider res in the 
descending order of their excellence ; the third considers the 
Incarnation, which, if not itself a sacrament, and the chief 
and sum of all sacraments, is the source of those of the New 
Law, considered in the fourth Book. The scheme is single and 
orderly; the difficulty will be in actually arranging the various 
topics within it. Endeavouring to do so, the Lombard 
in Book I. puts together the doctrine of the Trinity, 
of the three Persons composing it, and their attributes 
and qualities. Book II. considers in order, the Angels and, 
very briefly, the work of the Six Days down to the creation 
of man ; then the Christian doctrina as to man is presented : 
his creation and its reasons ; the creation of his anima ; the 
creation of woman ; the condition of man and woman 
before the Fall ; their sin ; next, free-wiU and grace. Book 
III. treats of the Incarnation, in all the aspects in which it 
may be known, and of the nature of Christ, His saving merit, 
and the grace which was in Him ; also of the virtues of 
faith, hope, and charity, the seven gifts of the Spirit, and the 
existence of them all in Christ. Book IV. considers the 
Sacraments of the New Law : Baptism, Confirmation, the 
Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, ordination to holy 
orders, marriage. It concludes with setting forth the 
Resurrection and the Last Judgment. 

VOL. II 2 A 


The first chapters of Genesis were the ultimate source of 
the Lombard's actual arrangement. And the Summa will 
follow the same order of treatment. One may perceive how 
naturally the adoption of this order came to Christian 
theologians by glancing over Augustine's De Genesi ad 
litteram.^ This Commentary was partially constructive, and 
not simply exegetical ; and afforded a cadre, or frame, of 
topical ordering, which could readily be filled out with the 
contents of the Sentences or even of the Summa : God, in 
His unity and trinity, the Creation, man especially, his fall, 
the Incarnation as the saving means of his restoration, and 
then the Sacraments, and the final Judgment unto heaven 
and hell. One may say that this was the natural and 
proper order of presenting the contents of the Christian 
sacra doctrina. 

So the great Summa theologiae of Thomas Aquinas adopts 
the same order which the Lombard had followed. The 
Pars prima begins with defining sacra doctrina.^ It then 
proceeds to consider God — whether he exists ; then treats 
of His simplicitas and perfectio ; next of His attributes ; 
His bonitas, infinitas, immutahilitas, aeternitas, unitas ; then 
of our knowledge of Him ; then of His knowledge, and 
therein of truth and falsity ; thereupon are considered the 
divine will, love, justice, and pity ; the divine providence 
and predestination ; the divine power and beatitude. 

All this pertains to the unitas of the divine essence ; 
and now Thomas passes on to the Trinitas personarum, or 
the more distinctive portions of Christian theology. He 
treats of the processio and relationes of the divinae Personae, 
and then of themselves — Father, Son, Holy Spirit — and 
then of their essential relationship and properties. Next he 
discusses the missio of the divine Persons, and the relations 
between God and His Creation. First comes the consideration 
of the principle of creation, the processio creaturarum a Deo, 
and of the nature of created things, with some discussion of 
evil, whether it be a thing. 

Among created beings, Thomas treats first of angels, and 
at great length ; then of the physical creation, in its order — 
the work of the six days, but with no great detail. Then 

1 Migne, Pat. Lat. 34, col. 246-485. ^ Ante, p. 320 sqq. 


man, created of spiritual and corporeal substance — his 
complex nature is to be analysed and fathomed to its depths. 
Thomas discusses the union of the anima ad corpus ; then 
the powers of the anima, in generali and in speciali — the 
intellectual faculties, the appetites, the will and its freedom 
of choice ; how the anima knows — the full Aristotelian theory 
of cognition is given. Next, more specifically as to the 
creation of the soul and body of the first man, and the 
nature of the image and similitude of God within him ; then 
as to man's condition and faculties while in a state of 
innocence ; also as to Paradise. 

This closes the treatment of the creatio et distinctio 
rerum ; and Thomas passes to their gubernatio, and the 
problem of how God conserves and moves the corporeal 
and spiritual ; then concerning the action of one creature 
on another, and how the angels are ranged in hierarchies, 
and although purely spiritual beings, riiinister to men and 
guard them ; then concerning the action of corporeal things, 
concerning fate, and the action of men upon men. 

Here ends Pars prima. The first section of the second 
part {Prima secundae) begins. In a short Prologue Thomas 
says that having considered God the Exemplar and His 
creations, it remains to consider man the Image, in so far 
as he is the source of his own acts. He then takes up in 
order : the ultimate end of man ; the nature of man's 
beatitude, and wherein it consists, and how it may be 
attained ; then voluntary and involuntary acts, and the 
nature and action of wiU ; then fruition, intention, election, 
deliberation, consent, and actions good and bad, flowing 
from the will ; then the passions, — concupiscence and 
pleasure, sadness, hope and despair, fear, anger ; next habits 
{habitus) and the virtues, intellectual, cardinal, theological ; 
the gifts of the Spirit, and the beatitudes ; the vices, and 
sin, and penalty. Thereupon it becomes proper to consider 
the external causes {principia) of acts : " The external cause 
{principium) moving toward good is God ; who instructs us 
through law, and aids us through grace. Therefore we must 
speak, first of law, then of grace." So Thomas discusses : 
the essentia of law, and the different kinds of law — lex aeterna, 
lex naturalis, lex humana — their effect and validity ; then 


the precepts of the Old Law (of the Old Testament) ; then 
as to the law of the Gospel and the need of grace ; and 
lastly, concerning grace and human merit. 

The Secunda secundae (the second division of the second 
part) opens with a Prologue, in which the author says that, 
having considered generally the virtues and vices, and other 
things pertaining to the matter of ethics, it is needful to 
consider these same matters more particularly, each in turn ; 
" for general moral statements [sermones morales universales) 
are less useful, inasmuch as actions are always in particu- 
larihus." A more special statement of moral rules may 
proceed in two ways : the one from the side of the moral 
material, discussing this or that virtue or vice ; the other 
considers what applies to special orders {speciales status) of 
men, for instance prelates and the lower clergy, or men 
devoted to the active or contemplative religious life. " We 
shall, therefore, consider specially, first what applies to aU 
conditions of men, and then what applies to certain orders 
{deter minatos status)." Thomas adds that it will be best to 
consider in each case the virtue and corresponding gift, and 
the opposing vice, together ; also that " virtues are reducible 
to seven, the three theological,^ and the four cardinal virtues. 
Of the intellectual virtues, one is Prudence, which is numbered 
with the cardinal virtues ; but ars does not pertain to morals, 
which relate to what is to be done, while ars is the correct 
faculty of making things {recta ratio factibilium) .^ The 
other three intellectual virtues, sapientia, intellectus, et 
scientia, bear the names of certain gifts of the Holy Spirit, and 
are considered with them. Moral virtues are all reducible 
to the cardinal virtues ; and therefore in considering each 
cardinal virtue all the virtues related to it are considered, 
and the opposite vices." 

This classification of the virtues seems anything but 
clear. And perhaps the weakest feature of the Summa is 

1 The three theological virtues are fides, spes, and caritas. They are called 
thus because Deum habent pro objecto ; and because they are poured (infundun- 
tur) into us by God alone. They are distinguished from the moral and intellectual 
virtues because their object surpasses our reason, while the object of the moral 
and intellectual virtues can be comprehended by human reason {Summa, Pars 
prima secundae, Quaestio Ixii., Art. 1-4). 

^ 'i^is fj-era, \6yov dXTjdovs iroi'qTLKT], Arist. Nich. Ethics, vi. 4. 


this scarcely successful ordering, or combination, of the 
Aristotelian virtues with those more germane to the Chris- 
tian scheme. However this may be, the author of the 
Summa proceeds to consider in order : fides, and the gifts 
{dona) of intellectus and scientia which correspond to the 
virtue faith ; next the opposing vices : infidelitas, haeresis, 
apostasia, hlasphemia, and caecitas mentis (spiritual blindness) . 
Next in order come the virtue spes, and the corresponding 
gift of the Spirit, timor, and the opposing vices of desperatio 
and praesumptio} Next, caritas, with its dilectio, its gaudium, 
its pax, its misericordia, its beneficentia and eleemosyna, and 
its correctio fraterna ; then the opposite vices, odium, acedia, 
invidia, discordia, contentio, schisma, helium, rixa, seditio, 
scandalum. Next the donum sapientiae, and its opposite, 
stuUitia ; next, prudentia, and its correspondent gift, con- 
silium ; and its connected vices, imprudentia, negligentia, 
and its evil semblances, dolus andfraus. 

Says Thomas : Consequenter post prudentiam consideran- 
dum est de Justitia. Whereupon foUows a juristic treat- 
ment oijus, justitia, judicium, restitutio, acceptio personarum ; 
then homicide and other crimes recognized by law. Then 
come the virtues connected with justitia, to wit, religio, and 
its acts, devotio, oratio, adoratio, sacrificium, oblatio, decimae, 
votum, juramentum ; then the vices opposed to religio : 
superstitio, idolatria, tentatio Dei, perjurium, sacrilegium, 
simonia. Next is considered the virtue of pietas ; then 
observantia, with its parts, i.e. dulia (service), obedientia, and 
its opposite, inobedientia. Next, gratia (thanks) or gratitudo, 
and its opposite, ingratitudo ; next, vindicatio (punishment) ; 
next, Veritas, with its opposites, hypocrisis, jactantia (boast- 
ing), and ironia ; next, amicitia, with the vices of adulatio 
and litigium. Next, the virtue of liberalitas, and its vices, 
avaritia a.nd prodigalitas ; next, epieikeia {aequitas). Finally, 
closing this discussion of all that is connected with Justitia, 
Thomas speaks of its corresponding gift of the Spirit, pietas. 

Now comes the third cardinal virtue, Fortitudo — ^under 
which martyrium is the type of virtuous act ; intimiditas 
and audacia are the two vices. Then the parts of Fortitudo, 

1 One notes that these two, like many other of the vices enumerated, are 
vices in that they are extremes, in the Aristotelian sense. 


to wit, magnanimitas, magnificentia, pafientia, per sever antia, 
and the obvious opposing vices. Next, the fourth cardinal 
virtue, Temperantia, its obvious opposing vices, and its parts, 
to wit, verecundia, honestas, ahstinentia, sohrietas, castitas, 
dementia, modestia, humilitas, and the various appropriate 
acts and opposing vices related to these special virtues. 

So far,^ Thomas has been considering the virtues proper 
for all men ; and now he comes to those specially pertaining 
to certain kinds of men, according to their gifts of grace, 
their modes of life, or the diversity of their offices, or stations. 
Of the special virtues related to gifts of grace, the first 
is prophetia, next raptus (vision), then gratia linguarum, 
and gratia miraculorum. After this, the vita activa and con- 
templativa, with their appropriate virtues, are considered. 
And then Thomas proceeds to speak De officiis et statibus 
hominum, and their respective virtues. 

Here ends the Secunda secundae, and Pars tertia opens 
with this Prologue : 

" Inasmuch as our Saviour Jesus Christ (as witnesseth the 
Angel, populum suum salvum faciens a peccatis eorum) has shown 
in himself the way of truth, through which we are able to come 
to the beatitude of immortal life by rising again, it is necessary, 
for the consummation of the whole theological matter, after the 
consideration of the final end of human life, and of the virtues 
and vices, that our attention should be fixed upon the Saviour 
of all and His benefactions to the human race. 

"As to which, first one must consider the Saviour himself ; 
secondly, His sacraments, by which we obtain salvation ; thirdly, 
concerning the end (finis), immortal life, to which we come by 
rising again through Him. 

"As to the first, one has to consider the mystery of the In- 
carnation, in which God was made man for our salvation, and 
then those things that were done and suffered by our Saviour, 
that is, God incarnate." 

This Prologue indicates sufficiently the order of topics in 
the Pars tertia of the Summa, through Quaestio xc, at 
which point the hand of the Angelic Doctor was folded to 
eternal rest. He was then considering penance, the fourth 
in his order of Sacraments. AU that he had to say as to 
the person, and attributes, and acts and passion of Christ 

1 We are at Quaestio clxxi. of Secunda secundae. 


had been written ; and he had considered the Sacraments of 
baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist ; he was occupied 
with poenitentia ; and still other sacraments remained, as 
well as his final treatment of the matters which lie beyond 
the grave. So he left his work unfinished, and, in spite of 
many efforts, unfinishable by any of his pupils or successors.^ 


Inasmuch as the matter of their thoughts was trans- 
mitted to the men of the Middle Ages, and was not drawn 
from their own observation or constructive reasoning, the 
fundamental intellectual endeavour for mediaeval men was 
to apprehend and make their own, and re-express. Their 
intellectual progress followed this process of appropriation, 
and falls into three stages — learning, organically appro- 
priating, and re-expressing with added elements of thought. 
Logically, and generally in time, these three stages were 
successive. Yet, of course, they overlapped, and may be 
observed progressing simultaneously. Thus, for example, 
what was known of Aristotle at the beginning of the twelfth 
century was slight compared with the knowledge of his 
philosophy that was opened to western Europe in the latter 
part of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth. 
And while, by the middle of the twelfth century, the elements 
of Aristotle's logic had been thoroughly appropriated, the 
substantial Aristotelian philosophy had still to be learned and 
mastered, before it could be reformulated and re-expressed 
as part of mediaeval thought. 

Looking solely to the outer form, the three stages of 
mediaeval thought are exemplified in the Scriptural Com- 
mentary of the later Carolingian time, in the twelfth-century 
Books of Sentences, and at last in the more organic Summa 
theologiae. With this significant evolution and change of 
outer form, proceeded the more substantial evolution 

^ The order which Thomas would have followed in the unfinished conclusion 
of his Summa theologiae, may be inferred from the order of the last half of Book IV. 
of his Contra Gentiles, or indeed from the last part of the fourth Book of the 
Lombard's Sentences. 


consisting in learning, appropriating, and re-expressing the 
inherited material. In both cases, these three stages were 
necessitated by the greatness of the transmitted matter ; for 
the intellectual energies of the mediaeval period were fully 
occupied with mastering the data proffered so pressingly, 
with presenting and re-presenting this superabundant 
material, and recasting it in new forms of statement, which 
were also expressions, or realizations, of the mediaeval 
genius. So the mediaeval product may be regarded as 
given by the past, and by the same token necessitated 
and controlled. But, on the other hand, each stage of 
intellectual progress rendered possible the next one. 

The first stage of learning is represented by the 
Carolingian period, which we have considered. It was then 
that the patristic material was extracted from the writings 
of the Fathers, and rearranged and reapplied, to meet the 
needs of the time. The mastery of this material had 
scarcely made such vital progress as to enable the men of 
the ninth and tenth and eleventh centuries to re-express it 
largely in terms of their own thinking. In the ninth century, 
Eriugena affords an extraordinary exception with his drastic 
restatement of what he had drawn from Pseudo-Dionysius 
and others ; and at the end comes Anselm, whose genius 
is metaphysically constructive. But Anselm touches the 
coming time ; and the springs of Eriugena's genius are 
hidden from us. 

As for the antique thought during these Carolingian 
centuries, Eriugena dealt in his masterful way with what he 
knew of it through patristic and semi-patristic channels. 
But let us rather seek it in the curriculum of the Trivium 
and Quadrivium. What progress Gerbert made in the 
Quadrivium, that is, in the various branches of mathematics 
which he taught, has been noted, and to what extent his 
example was followed by his pupil Fulbert, at the cathedral 
school of Chartres.^ The courses of the Trivium — grammar, 
rhetoric, logic — demand our closer attention ; for they were 
the key of the situation. We must keep in mind that we 
are approaching mediaeval thought from the side of the 
innate human need of intellectual expression — the impulse 

1 Ante, Chapter XII., iii. 


to know and the need to formulate one's conceptions and 
express them consistently. For mediaeval men the first 
indispensable means to this end was grammar, including 
rhetoric, and the next was logic or dialectic. The Latin 
language contained the sum of knowledge transmitted to 
the Middle Ages. And it had to be learned. This was 
true even in Italy and Spain and France, where each year the 
current ways of Romance speech were departing more 
definitely from the parent stock ; it was more patently true 
in the countries of Teutonic speech. Centuries before, the 
Roman youth had studied grammar that they might speak 
and write correctly. Now it was necessary to study Latin 
grammar, to wit, the true forms and literary usages of the 
Latin tongue, in order to acquire any branch of knowledge 
whatsoever, and express one's corresponding thoughts. 
And men would not at first distinguish sharply between the 
mediating value of the learned tongue and the learning which 
it held.i 

Thus grammar, the study of the Latin language, repre- 
sented the first stage of knowledge for mediaeval men. This 
was to remain true through all the mediaeval centuries ; 
since all youths who became scholars had to learn the 
language before they could study what was contained in it 
alone. One may also say, and yet not speak fantastically, 
that grammar, the study of the correct use of the language 
itself, corresponded spiritually with the main intellectual 
labour of the Carolingian period. Alcuin's attention is 
commonly fixed upon the significance of language, Latin of 
course. And the labours of his pupil Rabanus, and the 

^ There were, of coiorse, attempts at translation, notably those of Notker the 
German (see ante, Vol. I., p. 309) and Alfred's translation of Boethius's De con- 
solatione. But such were made only of the popular parts of Scripture {e.g. 
the Psalms) or of very elementary profane treatises. To what extent Notker's 
translations were used, is hard to say. But at all events any one really seeking 
learning, studied and worked and thought in the medium of Latin ; for the bulk 
of the patristic writings never were translated ; and when the works of Aristotle 
had at last reached the Middle Ages in the Latin tongue, they were studied in 
that tongue. Because of the crudeness of the vernacular tongues, the Latin 
classics were even more untranslatable in the tenth or eleventh century than now. 

One may add, that it was fortunate for the progress of mediaeval learning 
that Latin was the one language used by all scholars in all countries. This facili- 
tated the diffusion of knowledge. How slow and painful would have been that 
diffusion if the different vernacular tongues had been used in their respective 
countries for serious writing. 


latter's pupil Walaf rid, are, as it were, devoted to the grammar 
of learning. That is to say, they read and endeavour to 
understand the works of the Fathers ; they compare and 
collate, and make volumes of extracts, which they arrange 
for the most part as Scripture commentaries ; commentaries, 
that is, upon the significance of the canonical writings which 
were the substance of all wisdom, but needed much explica- 
tion. Such works were the very grammar of knowledge, 
being devoted to the exposition of the meaning of the 
Scriptures and the vast burden of patristic thought. A 
like purpose was evinced in the efforts of the great emperor 
himself to re-establish schools of grammar, in order that 
the Scriptures might be more correctly understood, and 
the expositions of the holy Fathers. In fine, just as know- 
ledge of the Latin tongue was the end and aim of grammar, 
so a correct understanding of what was contained in Latin 
books was the aim of the intellectual labours of this period. 
It all represented the first stage in the mediaeval acquisition 
of knowledge, or in the presentation or expression of the 
same ; and thus the first stage in the mediaeval endeavour 
to realize the human impulse to know. 

The next course of the Trivium was logic ; and likewise 
its study will represent truly the second stage in the 
mediaeval realization of the human impulse to know, to wit, 
the second stage in the appropriation and expression of the 
knowledge transmitted from the past. We have spoken at 
some length of the logical studies of Gerbert, and his 
endeavours to adjust his thinking and classify the branches 
of knowledge by means of formal logic.^ Those discussions 
of his which seem somewhat puerile to us, were essential 
to his endeavours to formulate what he had learned, and 
present it as rational and ordered knowledge. Logic is 
properly the stage succeeding grammar in the formulation of 
rational knowledge. At least it was for men of Gerbert's 
time, and the following centuries. Rightly enough they 
looked on logic as a scientia sermotionalis, which on one side 
touched sheer linguistics, and on the other, had for its field 
the further processes of reason. Thus Hugo of St. Victor, 
Abaelard's very great contemporary, says : 

1 Ante, Chapter XII., J. 


" Logic is named from the Greek word logos, which has a two- 
fold interpretation. For logos means either sermo or ratio ; and 
therefore logic may be termed either a scientia sermotionalis or 
a scientia rationalis. Logica rationalis embraces dialectic and 
rhetoric, and is called discretiva (argumentative and exercising 
judgment) ; logica sermotionalis is the genus which includes 
grammar, dialectic and rhetoric, to wit, discursive science {dis- 
ertiva)." ^ 

The close connection between grammar and logic is 
evident. Logic treats of language used in rational expres- 
sion, as well as of the reasoning processes carried on in 
language. Its elementary chapters teach a rational use of 
language, whereby men may reach a more deeply consistent 
expression of their thoughts than is gained from grammar. 
Yet grammar also is logic, and based on logical principles. 
All this is exemplified in the logical treatises composing the 
Aristotelian Organon, which the Middle Ages used. First 
comes Porphyry's Isagoge, which clearly is bound up in 
language. Likewise Aristotle's Categories treat of the rational 
and consistent use of language, or of what may be stated in 
language. Next it is obvious that the De interpretatione 
treats of language used to express thought, its generic 
function. The more advanced treatises of the Organon, the 
Prior and Posterior Analytics, the Topics, and Sophistical 
Elenchi, treat directly and elaborately of the reasoning 
processes themselves. So one perceives the grammatical 
affinities of the simpler treatises in the Organon. The more 
advanced ones seem to stand to them as oratorical rhetoric 
stands to elementary grammar. For the Analytics, Topics, 
and Sophistical Elenchi are a kind of eristic, training the 
student to use the processes of thought and their expression 
in order to attain an end, commonly argumentative. The 
prior treatises have taught the elements, as it were the 
orthography and etymology of the rational expression of 
thought in language ; the latter (even as syntax and rhetoric) , 
train the student in the use of these elements. And one 
observes a nice historical fitness in the fact that only the 
simpler treatises of the Organon were in common use in the 
early Middle Ages, since they alone were necessary to the 

^ Eruditio didascalica, i. cap. 12 (Migne, Pat. Lot. 176, col. 750). 


first stage in the appropriation of the substance of patristic 
and antique thought. The full Organon was rediscovered, 
and retaken into use in the middle or latter part of the 
twelfth century, when men had progressed to a more organic 
appropriation of the patristic material and what they knew 
of the antique philosophy.^ 

Thus in mediaeval education, and in the successive order 
of appropriating the patristic and the antique, logic stood on 
grammar's shoulders. It was grammar's rationalized stage, 
and treated language as the means of expressing thought 
consistently and validly ; that is, so as not to contravene the 
necessities of that whereof it was the vehicle. And since 
language thus treated was in accord with rational thought, it 
would accord with the realities to which thought corresponds, 
and might be taken as expressing them. This last reflection 
introduces metaphysics. 

And properly. For the three stages in the mediaeval 
appropriation and expression of knowledge were grammar, 
logic, metaphysics. Logic has to do with the processes of 
thought ; with the positing of premises and the drawing of 
the conclusion. It does not necessarily consider whether 
the contents of its premises represent realities. This is 
matter for ontology, metaphysics. Now mediaeval meta- 
physics, which were those of Greek philosophy, were 
extremely pre-Kantian, in assuming a correspondence 
between the necessities or conclusions of thought and the 
supreme realities, God and the Universe. Nor did mediaeval 
logic doubt that its processes could elucidate and express the 
veritable natures of things. So mediaeval logic readily 
wandered into the province of metaphysics, and ignored the 
line between the two. 

Yet there is little metaphysics in the Organon ; none in 
its simpler treatises. So there was none in the elementary 
logical instruction of the schools before the twelfth century 
at least. ^ One may always distinguish between logic and 

^ Cf. Mandonnet, Siger de Brabant, etc., p. 6 (2nd ed., Louvain, 1911). 
Grabmann, o.c, ii. p. 68 sqq., says that Otto of Freising (d. 1158) was the 
first to show a thorough knowledge of the entire Organon. See also Hofmeister, 
" Studien iiber Otto von Freising," Neues Archiv filr deutsche GeschicMskunde, 
Bd. xxxvii., p. 99 sqq., and p. 635 sqq. (Hannover, 191 1, 1912). 

- Cf. Abelson, The Seven Liberal Arts (New York, 1906). 


metaphysics ; and it is to our purpose to do so here. For 
as we have taken logic to represent the second stage in 
the mediaeval appropriation of knowledge, so metaphysics, 
poised in turn on logic's shoulders, is very representative of 
the third stage, to wit, the stage of systematic and organic 
re-expression of the ancient matter, with elements added by 
the great schoolmen. 

Metaphysics was very properly the final stage. The 
grammatical represented an elementary learning of what the 
past had transmitted ; the logical a further retrying of the 
matter, an attempt to understand and express it, formulate 
parts of it anew with deeper consistency of expression. 
Then follows the attempt for final and universal consistency : 
final, inasmuch as thought penetrates to the nature of things 
and expresses realities and the relationships of realities ; and 
universal, in that it seeks to order and systematize all its 
concepts, and bring them to unity in a Summa — a perfected 
scheme of rational presentation of God and His creation. 
This will be, largely speaking, the final endeavour of the 
mediaeval man to ease his mind, and realize his impulse to 
know and express himself with uttermost consistency. 

So for mediaeval men, metaphysics stood on logic's 
shoulders and represented the final completion of their 
thought, in a universal system and scheme of God and man 
and things.^ But the first part of this proposition had not 
been true with Greek philosophy. Metaphysics is properly 
occupied with being, in its ultimate essence and relation- 
ships ; with the consistent putting together of things, to wit, 
the presentation or expression of them so as not to disagree 
with any of the data recognized as pertinent. The thinker 
considers profoundly, seeking to penetrate the ultimate 
reality and relationships of things, through which a universal 
whole is constituted. This makes ontology, metaphysics — 
the science of being, of causes, and so the science of the first 
Cause, God. Aristotle called this the " first " philosophy, 
because lying at the base of all branches of knowledge, and 

^ I am speaking generally, that is to say, omitting for the present the aberrant 
or special or intrusive tendencies found in a man like Roger Bacon, for example. 
They were of importance for what was to come thereafter ; but are not broadly 
representative of the Middle Ages. 


depending on nothing beyond itself. Some time after his 
death, the Peripatetics and then the Neo-Platonists called 
this first science by the name of Metaphysics, " after " or 
" beyond " physics, if one will, perhaps because of the actual 
order of treatment in the schools. 

The term Metaphysics is vague enough ; either " first " 
philosophy or " ontology " is preferable. Yet as to Greek 
philosophy the term has apt historical suggestiveness. For 
it did come after physics in time, and was in fact evoked 
by the imperfect method and consequent contradictions 
of the earlier philosophies. From the beginning, Greek 
philosophy drove straight at the cause or origin of things — 
surely the central problem of metaphysics. Thales and the 
other lonians began with rational, though crude, hypotheses 
as to the sources of the universe. These were first attempts 
to reach a consistent expression of its origin and nature. 
Each succeeding philosopher considered further, from the 
vantage-ground of the recognized inconsistencies or inade- 
quacies in the theories of his predecessors. He was thus 
led on to consider more profoundly the essential relationships 
of things, the very truth of their relationships, and on and 
on into the problem of their being. For the verity of rela- 
tions must be according to the verity of being of the things 
related. The world about us consists in relationships, of 
antecedents and sequences, of cause and effect ; and our 
thought of it is made up of consistencies or contradictions, 
which last we struggle to eliminate, or to transform to 

These early philosophers looked only to the Aristotelian 
material cause for the origin and cause of things ; yet 
reflection plunged them deeper into a consideration of the 
nature of being and relationships. The other causes were 
evoked by Anaxagoras and then by Plato, and by them 
were led into the arena of debate ; and philosophers dis- 
cussed the efficient and final cause as well as the material. 
Such discussions are recognized by Plato, and finally by 
Aristotle as relating to the first principles of cognition and 
being, and so as constituting metaphysics. The constant 
search for a deeper consistency of explanation had led on 
and on through a manifold consideration of those palpable 


relationships which make up the visible world ; it had dis- 
closed the series of necessary assumptions required by those 
visible relationships ; and thus the search for causality and 
origins, and essential relationships, became one and the 
s ame — metaphysics . 

Metaphysics was not ineptly called so, since it had in 
time come after the cruder physical hypotheses. But such 
was not the order of mediaeval intellectual progress. The 
Middle Ages passed through no preliminary course of 
physical hypotheses, explanatory of the universe. Not 
physics, but logic (introduced by grammar) led up to the 
final construction — or rather adoption and reconstruction — 
of ultimate hypotheses as to God and man, led up to the all- 
ordering and all-compassing Theologia. Metalogics, rather 
than Metaphysics, would be the proper name for these final 
expressions or actualizations of the mediaeval impulse to 



I. The Problem of Universals : Abaelard. 
II. The Mystic Strain: Hugo and Bernard, 
III. The Later Decades: Bernard Silvestris ; Gilbert de 
LA Porree ; William of Conches ; John of Salisbury, 
and Alanus of Lille. 

From the somewhat elaborate general considerations which 
have occupied the last two chapters, we turn to the repre- 
sentative manifestations of mediaeval thought in the 
twelfth century. These belong in part to the second or 
" logical," and in part to the third or " meta-logical," stage 
of the mediaeval mind. The first or " grammatical " stage 
was represented by the Carolingian period ; and in reviewing 
the mental aspects of the eleventh century, we entered upon 
the second stage, that of logic, or dialectic, to use the more 
specific mediaeval term. Toward the close of the tenth 
century, Gerbert was found strenuously occupying himself 
with logic, and using it as a means of ordering the branches 
of knowledge. At the end of the eleventh, Anselm has not 
only considered certain logical problems, but has vaulted 
over into constructive metaphysical theology. Looking 
back over Anselm's work, from the vantage-ground of the 
twelfth century's further reflections, one may be conscious 
of a certain genial youthfulness in his reliance upon single 
arguments, noble and beautiful soarings of the spirit, which 
however pay little regard to the firmness of the premises 
from which they spring, and still less to a number of cognate 



and pertinent considerations, which the twelfth century was 
to analyze. 

Anselm's thought perhaps overleaped logic. At all 
events he appears only occasionally absorbed with its formal 
problems. Yet he lived in a time of dawning logical con- 
troversy. Roscellin was even then blowing up the problem 
of universals, a problem occasioned by the entering of 
mediaeval thought upon the " logical " stage of its appropria- 
tion of the patristic and antique. 

The problem of universals, or general ideas, from the 
standpoint of logic, lies at the basis of consistent thinking. 
It reverts to the time when Aristotle's assertion of the pre- 
eminently real existence of individuals broke away from 
the Platonic doctrine of Ideas. For the early mediaeval 
philosophers, it took its rise in a famous passage in 
Porphyry's Introduction to the Categories, the concluding 
sentence of which, as translated into Latin by Boethius, puts 
the question thus : " Mox de generibus et speciebus illud 
quidem sive subsistant sive in nudis intellectibus posita 
sint, sive subsistentia corporalia sint an incorporalia, et 
utrum separata a sensibilibus an in sensibilibus posita et 
circa haec consistentia, dicere recusabo." " Next as to genera 
and species, do they actually exist or are they merely in 
thought ; are they corporeal or incorporeal existences ; are 
they separate from sensible things or only in and of them ? 
— I refuse to answer," says Porphyry ; " it is a very lofty 
business, unsuited to an elementary work." 

Thus, in three pairs of crude alternatives, the question 
came over to the early Middle Ages. The men of the 
Carolingian period took one position or another, without 
sensing its difficulties, or observing how it lay athwart the 
path of knowledge. Students were not as yet attempting 
such a dynamic appropriation of the ancient material as 
would evoke this veritable problem of cognition. Even 
Gerbert at the close of the tenth century was still so busy 
with the outer forms and figments of logic that he had 
no time to enter on those ulterior problems where logic 
links itself to metaphysics. One Roscellin, living and 
teaching apparently at Besangon in the latter part of the 
eleventh century, seems to have been the first to attack the 

VOL. II 2 B 


currently accepted " realism " with, some sense of the 
matter's thorny intricacies. With his own " nominalistic " 
position we are acquainted only through his adversaries, who 
imputed to him views which a thoughtful person could 
hardly havq entertained — that universals were merely words 
and breath {flatus vocis). Roscellin seems at all events to 
have been a man strongly held by the reality of individuals, 
and one who found it difficult to ascribe a sufficient in- 
tellectual actuality to the general idea as distinguished 
from the perception of things and the demands of the 
concepts of their individual existences. His logical diffi- 
culties impelled him to theological heresy. The unity in 
the Trinity became an impossibility ; he could only con- 
ceive of three beings, just as he might think of three angels ; 
and he would have spoken of three Gods had usage not 
forbidden it, says St. Anselm.^ As it was, he said enough 
to draw on him the condemnation of a Council held at 
Soissons in 1092, before which he quailed and recanted. 
For the remainder of his life he so constrained the expression 
of his thoughts as to ensure his safety. 

One may say that Plato's theory of ideas was a meta- 
physical presentation of the universe, sounding in conceptions 
of reality. But for the Middle Ages, the problem whether 
genera and species exist when abstracted from their par- 
ticulars, sprang from logical controversy. It was a problem 
of cognition, cognizance, understanding ; how should one 
understand and analyze the contents of a statement, e.g. 
Socrates is a man. Moreover, it was a fundamental and 
universal problem of cognition ; for it was not merely 
occupied, like all mental processes, with bringing data to 
consistent formulation, but pertained to those processes them- 
selves by which any and all data are stated or formulated. 
It touched every formulation of truth, asking, in fine, how 
are we to think our statements ? The philosophers of the 

^ St. Anselm, Epist. lib. iii. 41, ad Fulconem (Migne, Pat. Lat. 158, col. 1192). 
So Roscellin showed in his own case how problems primarily logical could pass 
over to metaphysics or theology. Likewise, although on the other side of the 
controversy, one, Odo of Toiurnai, a good contemporary realist, found realism 
an efficient aid in explaining the transmission of original sin ; since for him all 
men formed but one substance, which was infected once for all by the sin of the 
first parents. Cf. Haureau, Hist, de la philosophie scholastique, i. pp. 297-308 ; 
Du Wulf, Hist, of Medieval Philosophy, p. 156, 3rd ed. 


eleventh and twelfth centuries, however, did not view this 
problem as one pertaining to the mind's processes, and as 
having to do solely with the understanding of the contents 
of a statement. Rather, even as Plato had done, they 
approached it as if it were a problem of modes li existence ; 
and for this very reason it had pushed Roscellin into 
theological error. 

The discussion was to pass through various stages ; and 
each stage may seem to us to represent the point reached 
by the thinker in his analysis of his conscious meaning 
in stating a proposition. Moreover, each solution may be 
valid for him who gives it, because of its correspondence to 
the meaning of his utterances so far as he has analyzed 
them. But mediaeval men could not take it in this way. 
Their intellectual task lay in appropriating, and in their own 
way re-expressing, all that had come to them from an 
authoritative past. The problem of universals had been 
stated by a great authority, who put it as pertaining to the 
objective reality of genera and species. How then might 
mediaeval men take it otherwise, especially when at all 
events it pertained in all verity to their endeavour to grasp 
and re-express the contents of transmitted truth ? It 
became for a while the crucial problem, the answer to which 
might indicate the thinker's general intellectual attitude. 
Far from keeping to logic, to the organon or instrumental 
part of the mediaeval endeavour to know, it wound itself 
through metaphysics and theology. Obviously the thinker's 
answer to the problem would bear relation to his thoughts 
upon the transcendent reality of spiritual essences. 

The men who first became impressed with the importance 
of this problem, gave extreme answers to it, sometimes 
crassly denying the real existence of universals, but more 
often hailing them as antecedent and all-permeating realities. 
If Roscellinus took the former position, a pupil of his, 
William of Champeaux, held the extreme opposite view, 
when both he and the twelfth century were still young. 
One may, however, bear in mind that as the views of the 
older nominalist are reported only by his enemies, so our 
knowledge of William's lucubrations comes mainly from the 
exacerbated pen of Peter Abaelard. 


William held apparently " that the same thing, in its 
totality and at the same time, existed in its single individuals, 
among which there was no essential difference, but merely 
a variety of accidents." ^ Abaelard appears to have per- 
formed a reductio ad absurdum upon this view that the total 
genus exists in each individual. He pointed out that in such 
case the total genus homo would at the same time exist in 
Socrates and also in Plato, when one of them might be in 
Rome and the other in Athens. " At this William changed 
his opinion," continues Abaelard, " and taught that the genus 
existed in each individual not essentialiter but indifferenter 
or [as some texts read] individualiter ." Which seems to 
mean that William no longer held that the total genus 
existed in each individual actually, but " indistinguishably," 
or " individually." 

And the students flocked away with Abaelard, he also 
says ; and William fled the lecture chair. William and 
Peter ; shall we say of them arcades ambo ? This would be 
but a harmless depreciation of Abaelard, in the face of the 
universal and correct tradition as to his epoch-making 
intellectual progressiveness. Indeed it might be well to let 
the phrase sound in our ears, just for the reminder's sake, 
that Abaelard was, like William, a man of logic, although far 
more expert both in manipulating the dialectic processes 
and in applying them to theology. 

Before endeavouring briefly to reconstruct the intellectual 
qualities of Abaelard from his writings, let us see how the 
famous open letter to a friend, in giving an apologetic story 
of the writer's life, discloses the fatalities of his character. 
This Historia calamitatum suarum makes it plain enough 
why the crises of his life were all of them catastrophes — even 
leaving out of view his liaison with Heloise and its penalty. 
A fatal impulse to annoy seems to drive him from fate to 
fate ; the old word of Heraclitus •^^09 avOpmirm haifimv 
(character is a man's genius) was so patently true of him. 
Much that he said was to receive orthodox approval after 
his time. Quite true. But if, as often remarked, the heresy 
of one age becomes the accepted doctrine of the next, one 
still may doubt whether the heretic would have been persona 

^ Abaelard, Hist, calamitatum, chap. 2. 



prata to the later time. Abaelard at all events would have 
Jed others and himself a life of thorns in the thirteenth 
century or the fourteenth, had he been born again when 
some of his methods and opinions had become accepted 
commonplace. Did he have an eye for logical and human 
truth more piercing than his twelfth-century fellows ? 
Apparently. Was his need to speak out his truth so much 
the more imperative than theirs ? Possibly. At all events, 
jie was certainly possessed with an inordinate impulsion to 
undo his rivals. He sits down before their fortress walls by 
night, and when they see him there, they know not whether 
they look on friend or foe — in this auditor. They will find 
out soon enough. He studied dialectic under William of 
Champeaux at Paris, as all men were to know. He got what 
Willia-m had to teach, and moved on, to lecture in Melun and 
elsewhere. Then he returned and sat at William's feet 
awhile to learn rhetoric, as he announced. But quickly he 
rose up, and assailed his master's doctrine of universals, and 
overthrew him, as we have seen. The victim's friends made 
Abaelard's eristically-won lecturer's seat a prickly one. He 
left Paris for a while, and then returned and taught on 
Mount St. Genevieve, outside the city. 

Up to this time he had not been known to study 
theology. But in 1113, at the age of thirty-four, he went 
to Laon to listen to a famous theologian named Anselm, 
who himself had studied at Bee under a greater Anselm. 
Says Abaelard in his Historia calamitatum : " So I came to 
this old man, whose repute was a tradition, rather than 
merited by talent or learning. Any one who brought his 
uncertainties to him went away more uncertain still ! He 
was a marvel in the eyes of his hearers, but a nobody before 
a questioner. He had a wonderful wordflow, but the sense 
was contemptible and the reasoning abject." Well, I didn't 
listen to him long, Abaelard intimates ; but began to absent 
myself from his lectures, and was brought to task by his 
auditors, to whom jokingly I said, I, too, could lecture on 
Scripture ; and I was taken up. Nothing loath, the next 
day I lectured to them on the passage they had chosen from 
Ezekiel's obscure prophecies. So, all unprepared, and 
trusting in my genius, I began to lecture, at first to sparse 



audiences, but they quickly grew. Such is the substance of 
Abaelard's own account, and he goes on to tell how " the old 
man aforesaid was violently moved with envy," and shortlv 
Abaelard had to take his lecturings elsewhere. He returned 
to Paris, and we have the episode of Heloise, for whom, as 
his life went on, he evinced a devoted affection.^ 

Now he is monk in the abbey of St. Denis ; and there 
again he lectures, and takes up certain themes against 
Roscellinus, whom he seems to resurrect from the quiet of 
old age to make a target of. This old man, too, hits back 
and other vicious people blow up a cloud of envy, until the 
gifted lecturer finds himself an accused before the Council 
of Soissons, and his book condemned. Untaught by the 
burning of his book, Abaelard returns to his convent, and 
proceeds to unearth statements of the Venerable Bede show- 
ing that Dionysius the Areopagite who heard Paul preach, 
was not the St. Denis who became patron saint of France, 
and founder of the great abbey which even now was 
sheltering a certain Abaelard, and drawing power and 
revenue from the fame of its reputed almost apostolic 
founder. Its abbot and monks did not care to have the 
abbey walls undermined by truth, and Abaelard was hunted 
forth from among them. 

It was after this that he made for himself a lonely 
refuge, which he named the Paraclete, not far from Troyes, 
and thither again his pupils followed him in swarms, and 
built their huts around him in the wilderness. But still 
mightier foes — or their phantoms — ^rise against this hunted 
head. The Historia seems to allude to St. Norbert and to 
St. Bernard, Whatever the storm was, it was escaped by 
flight to a remote Breton convent which — still for his sins ! — 
had chosen Abaelard its abbot. There in due course they 
tried to murder him, and again he fled, this time back to his 
congenial sphere, the schools of Paris, where he lectured, 
now at the summit of fame, to enthusiastic multitudes of 
students. Some years pass, and then the pious jackal, 
William of St. Thierry, rouses his lion Bernard to contend 
with Abaelard and crush him, not with dialectic, at the 
Council of Sens in 1141. In a year he died, a broken man, 

1 Ante, Chapter XXVI. 



in Cluny's shelter. The conflict had not been of his seeking, 
perhaps, had he been less vain, he might have avoided it. 
y^en it was upon him, the unhappy athlete of the schools 
found himself a pigmy matched against the giant of 
Clairvaux — the Thor and Loki of the Church ! Whether or 
jiot the unequal battle raises Abaelard in our esteem, its 
outcome commends him to our pity ; and all our sympathy 
stays with him to the last days of a life that was, as if 
physically, crushed. This accumulation of sad fortune bears 
vntness enough to the character of the man on whose neck 
it did not fall by accident. Now let us try to reconstruct 
liim intellectually. 

We have heretofore observed the genius and noted the 
somewhat swaddling dialectic categories of a certain eager 
intellect bearing the iname of Gerbert.^ Abaelard's mental 
processes have advanced beyond such logical stammerings. 
He and his time are in the fulness of youth, and feel the 
strength and joyful assurance of an intellectual progress, to 
be brought about by a new-found proficiency in dialectic. 
In the first half of the twelfth century, the intellectual genius 
of the time — and Abaelard was its quintessence — knew 
itself advancing by this means in truth. A like intellectual 
consciousness had rejoiced the disputants in Plato's academy, 
under the inspiration of that beautiful reasoner's exquisite 
dialectic. The one time, like the other, was justified in 
its confidence. For in such epochs, language, reasoning, 
and knowledge advance with equal step ; thought clears up 
with linguistic and logical analysis ; it becomes clear and 
illuminated because more distinctly conscious of the char- 
acter of its processes, and the nature of statement. There 
is thus a veritable progress, at least in the methodology 
of truth. 

In Abaelard's time men had already studied grammar, 
the grammar of the Latin tongue, and the quasi-grammar of 
rearrangement and first painful learning of the knowledge 
which it held. They had studied logic too, its simpler 
elements, those which consist mainly in a further clearing 
up of the meanings of language. Some men — Anselm of 
Canterbury — had already made sudden flights beyond 

1 Ante, Chapter XII., i. 


grammar, and out of logic's pale. And the labour of logical 
and organic appropriation, with some reconstruction of the 
ancient material, was to go on in this first half of the twelfth 
century, when Hugo of St, Victor lived as well as Abaelard 
Progress by means of dialectic controversy, and first attempts 
at systematic construction, mark this period intellectuaUv 
Abaelard lived and moved and had his being in dialectic 
The further interest of Theology was lent him by the spirit ^ 
of his time. Through the medium of the one he reasoned 
analytically ; and in the province of the other he applied his 
reasoning constructively, using patristic materials and the 
fragments of Greek philosophy scattered through them 
Thus Abaelard, a true man of the twelfth century, passes 
on through logic to theology or metaphysics. 

For the completeness of his logical knowledge he lived 
and worked twenty or thirty years too soon. He was 
unacquainted with the more elaborate logical treatises of 
Aristotle, to wit, the Prior and Posterior Analytics, the 
Topics, and Sophistical Elenchi. The sources of his 
own treatises upon Dialectic are Porphyry's Introduction, 
Aristotle's Categories and De Interpretatione, and certain 
treatises of Boethius.^ A first result of the elementary and 
quasi-grammatical character of the sources of logic upon 
which he drew, is that the connection between logic and 
grammar is very plain with him. Note, for example, this 
paragraph of his, the substance of which is drawn from 
Aristotle's Categories : 

" But neither can substances be compared,^ since comparison 
relates to attribute, and not to substance ; so it is shown that 
comparison lies not as to nouns, but as to their attributes. Thus 
we say whiter but not whiteiiesser. Much more are substances 
which have no attribute [adjacentiam) immune from comparison. 
More or less cannot be predicated of nouns [nomina suhstantiva). 
For one cannot say more man or less man, as more or less white." ^ 

^ Abaelard's Dialectica was published by Cousin, Ouvrages inedits d'Abelard 
(Paris, 1836). For a thorough exposition of Abaelard's logic see Prantl, Ges. 
der Logik, ii. p. 160 sgq. 

^ I.e. as positive, comparative, and superlative. 

^ Cousin, Ouvr. inedits, p. 175. Cf. Aristotle's Categories, ii. v. 20. The 
opening of Pars tertia of Abaelard's Dialectica (in Cousin's edition, p. 324 sqq.) 
affords an interesting example of this logical analysis and reconstruction of state- 
ment, which seems to originate in sheer grammar, and then advance beyond it. 


Evidently this elementary sort of logic, whether with 
Aristotle or Abaelard, represents a clearing up of the mind 
on current modes of expression. And sometimes from such 
studies men make discoveries like that of Moliere's Bourgeois 
Gentilhomme, who discovered that he had always been 
talking prose. Some of the points on which the minds of 
Abaelard's contemporaries required clarification, would be 
foolish word-play to ourselves, as, for instance, whether the 
significance of the sentence homo est animal is contained in 
the subject, copula, or predicate, or only in all three ; and 
whether when a word is spoken, the very same word and 
the whole of it comes to the ears of all the hearers at the 
same time : " utrum ipsa vox ad aures diversorum simul 
et tota aequaliter veniat." ^ Such questions, as WcLS observed 
regarding the problems of logical arrangement in Gerbert's 
mind, may be pertinent and reasonable enough, if viewed in 
connection with the intellectual conditions of a period ; just 
as other questions now make demand on us for solution, 
being links in the chain of our knowledge, or manner of 
reasoning. But future men may pass them by as not lying in 
their path to progressive knowledge of the universe and man. 

So the problem of universals was still cardinal with 
Abaelard and his fellow-logicians, who through logic were 
advancing, as they believed, along the path of objective 
truth. Its solution would determine the nature of the 
categories into which logic was fitting whatever might be 
enunciated or expressed. The inquiry represented an 
ultimate analysis of statement, — of the general nature of 
propositions ; and also related to their assumed corre- 
spondence with realities. What William of Champeaux had 
unqualifiedly alleged, Abaelard tried to determine more 
analytically, to wit, the value of the proposition " si aliquid 
sit ea res quae est species, id est vel homo vel equus et 
caetera, sit quaelibet res quae eorum genus est, veluti animal 
aut corpus aut substantia," — if species be something, as man, 
horse, and so forth, then that which is the genus of these 
may be something, as animal, body, or substance.^ 

Abaelard's discussion of this matter is a discussion of 
the true content of propositions. His conclusion is not so 

^ Cousin, o.c. pp. 190, 192. ^ Ibid. p. 331. 


clear as to have occasioned no dispute. One must not think 
of him as an AristoteHan — for he knew Httle of the sub- 
stantial philosophy of Aristotle. Our dialectician had 
absorbed more of Plato, through turbid patristic channels 
and the current translation of the Timaeus. So his solution 
of the question of genus and species may prove an analytic 
bit of eclecticism, an imagined reconcilement of the two 
great masters. The universal or general is, says he, " quod 
natum est de pluribus praedicari," that which is by its nature 
adapted to be predicated of a number of things. The 
universal consists neither in things as such nor in words as 
such ; it consists rather in general predicability ; it is sermo, 
sermo praedicabilis, that which may be stated, as a predicate, 
of many. As such it is not a mere word : sermo is not 
merely vox ; that is not the true general predicable. On the 
other liand, one thing cannot be the predicate of another ; 
res de re non praedicatur : therefore sermo is not res. Yet 
Abaelard does not limit the existence of the universal to 
the concept of him who thinks it. It surely exists in the 
individuals, since substantia specierum is not different from 
the essentia individuorum. But does not the general con- 
cept exist as an objective unity ? Apparently Abaelard 
would answer : Yes, it does thus exist as a common same- 
ness {consimilitudo) . 

All this is anything but clear. And the various twelfth- 
century opinions on universals no longer possess human 
interest. It is hard for us to distinguish between them, or 
understand them clearly, or state them intelligibly. They 
are bound up in a phraseology untranslatable into modern 
language, because the discussion no longer corresponds to 
modern ways of thought. But one is interested in the 
human need which drove Abaelard and his fellows upon the 
horns of this problem, and in the nature of their endeavours 
to formulate their thought so as to escape those opposing 
horns — of an extreme realism which might issue in pantheism, 
and an extreme nominalism which seemed to deprive 
predication of substance and validity.^ 

^ Prantl's Geschichte der Logik, vol. ii., contains an exhaustive discussion of 
the various phases of this controversy : its language is little less difi&cult than 
that of the twelfth-century word- twisters. 


So much for Abaelard as sheer logician, formal adjuster 
of the instrumental processes of thinking. Dialectic was for 
him a first stage in the actualization of the impulse to know, 
and bring knowledge to consistent expression. It was also 
his way_j3f approach to the further systematic presentation 
of his thoughts upon God and man, human society and 
justice, divine and human. 

" A new calumny against me, have my rivals lately devised, 
because I write upon the dialectic art ; affirming that it is not 
lawful for a Christian to treat of things which do not pertain to the 
Faith. Not only they say that this science does not prepare us 
for the Faith, but that it destroys faith by the implications of its 
arguments. But it is wonderful if I must not discuss what is 
permitted them to read. If they aUow that the art militates 
against faith, surely they deem it not to be science {scientia). 
For the science of truth is the comprehension of things, whose 
species is the wisdom in which faith consists. Truth is not 
opposed to truth. For not as falsehood may be opposed to 
falsity, or evil to evil, can the true be opposed to the true, or the 
good to the good ; but rather all good things are in accord. 
All knowledge is good, even that which relates to evil, because 
a righteous man must have it. Since he may guard against 
evil, it is necessary that he should know it beforehand : otherwise 
he could not shun it. Though an act be evil, knowledge regard- 
ing it is good ; though it be evil to sin, it is good to know the sin, 
which otherwise we could not shun. Nor is the science mathe- 
matica to be deemed evil, whose practice (astrology) is evil. 
Nor is it a crime to know with what services and immolations 
the demons may be compelled to do our will, but to use such 
knowledge. For if it were evil to know this, how could God be 
absolved, who knows the desires and cogitations of all His 
creatures, and how the concurrence of demons may be obtained ? 
If therefore it is not wrong to know, but to do, the evil is to be 
referred to the act and not to the knowledge. Hence we are 
convinced that aU knowledge, which indeed comes from God 
alone and from His bounty, is good. Wherefore the study of 
every science should be conceded to be good, because that 
which is good comes from it ; and especially one must insist 
upon the study of that doctrina by which the greater truth 
is known. This is dialectic, whose function is to distinguish 
between every truth and falsity : as leader in aU knowledge, it 
holds the primacy and rule of all philosophy. The same also 
is shown to be needful to the CathoHc Faith, which cannot 
without its aid resist the sophistries of schismatics." ^ 

^ Cousin, o.c. pp. 434, 435. 


In this passage the man himself is speaking, and dis- 
closing his innermost convictions. For Abaelard's nature 
was set upon understanding all things through reason, even 
the mysteries of the Faith. He does not say, or quite think, 
that he will disbelieve whatever he cannot understand ; but 
his reasoning and temper point to the conclusion. This was 
obviously true of Abaelard's ethical opinions ; his enemies 
said it was true of his theology. Such a man would 
naturally plead for freedom of discussion, even for freedom 
of conclusion ; but within certain bounds ; for who in the 
twelfth century could maintain that heretics or infidels did 
rightly in rejecting the Christian Faith ? Yet Abaelard 
says heretics should be compelled {coercendi) by reason 
rather than force.^ And he could at least conceive of the 
rejection of the Faith upon, say, imperfect rational grounds. 
In his dialogue between Philosopher, Jew, and Christian, the 
Christian says to the Philosopher : One cannot argue 
against you from the authority of Scripture, which you do 
not recognize ; for no one can be refuted save with arguments 
drawn' from what he admits : Nemo quippe argui nisi ex 
concessis potest.^ However this sounded in Abaelard's time, 
the same was enunciated by Thomas Aquinas after him, 
in a passage already given. ^ But it is doubtful whether 
Thomas would have cared to follow Abaelard in some of 
the arguments of his Ethics or Book called, Know Thyself, in 
which he maintains that no act is a sin unless the actor was 
conscious of its sinfulness ; and therefore that killing the 
martjrrs could not be imputed as sin to those persecutors 
who deemed themselves thereby to be doing a service 
acceptable to God.* 

The titles given by Abaelard to his various treatises are 
indicative of the critical insistency of his nature. He gave 
his Ethica the title of Scito te ipsum, Know Thyself : under- 
stand thy good and ill intentions, and what may be vice or 
virtue in thee. Through the book, the discussion of right and 
wrong directs itself as pertinaciously to considerations of 

^ Theologia Christiana, iv. (Migne 178, col. 1284). 
2 Migne, Pat. Lat. 178, col. 1641. 
* Ante, p. 322. 
* Scito te ipsum, cap. 13 (Migne 178, col. 653). 


human nature as was possible in an age when theological 
dogma held the final criteria of human conduct. And 
Abaelard is capable of a lofty insight touching the relation- 
ship between God and man. 

" Penitence," says he, " is truly fruitful when grief and 
contrition proceed from love of God, regarded as benignant, 
rather than from fear of penalties. Sin cannot endure with this 
groaning and contrition of heart : for sin is contempt of God, 
or consent to evil, and the love of God in inspiring our groaning, 
suffers no ill." ^ 

Possibly when reading the Scito te ipsum oneis con- 
scious of a dialectician drawing distinctions, rather than of 
a moralist searching the heart of the matter. Everything 
is set forth so reasonably. Yet Abaelard's impartial delight 
in a rational view of belief and conduct shows nowhere 
quite as obviously as in his Dialogue between Philosopher 
and Jew and Christian. Each in turn is made to set forth 
the best arguments his position admits of. The author does 
his best for each, and perhaps seems temperamentally 
drawn to the position of the Philosopher, whom he permits 
to call the Jews stultos and the Christians insanos. This 
philosopher naturally is no Greek of Plato's or Aristotle's 
time, but a good Roman, who regards moralis philosophia as 
the finis omnium disciplinarum, and hangs all intellectual 
considerations upon a discussion of the summum bonum. 
His well-worn arguments are put with earnestness. He 
deprecates the blind acceptance of beliefs by children from 
their fathers, and the narrowness of mind which keeps men 
from perceiving the possible truth in others' opinions : 

" so that whomsoever they see differing from themselves in 
behef, they deem aHen from the mercy of God. Thus condemn- 
ing all others, they vaunt themselves alone as blessed. Long 
reflecting on this bUndness and pride of the human race, I have 
unceasingly besought the Divine Pity that He would deign to 
draw me forth from this miserable Charibdian whirlpool of error, 
and guide me to a port of safety. So you [addressing both Jew 
and Christian] behold me solicitous and attentive as a disciple, 
to the documents of your arguments." ^ 

^ Scito te ipsum, cap. 19 (Migne 178, col. 664). ^ Migne 178, col. 1615. 


The qualities cultivated by dialectic, and the impartial 
rational temper, here displayed, reappear in the works of 
Abaelard devoted to sacred doctrine. Enough has been 
said of the method and somewhat captious qualities of the 
Sic et non} Unquestionably its manner of presenting the 
contradictory opinions of the Fathers, without any attempt 
to reconcile them, tended to bring into view the difficulties 
inhering in the formulation of Christian belief. And indeed 
the book made prominent all the diabolic insoluble problems 
of the Faith or rather of life itself and any view of God and 
man : predestination, for example ; whether God causes 
evil ; whether He is omnipotent ; whether He is free. The 
Lombard's Sentences and Thomas's Summa considered all 
these questions ; but they strove to solve them ; and 
Thomas did solve every one, leaving no loose ends to his 
theology. More potently than Abaelard did the Angelic 
Doctor employ dialectic in his finished scheme. With him, 
this propaedeutic discipline, this tool of truth, perfectly 
performs its task of construction. So also Abaelard 
intended to work with it ; but his somewhat unconsidered 
use of the tool did not meet the approval of his con- 
temporaries. Accordingly, in his more constructive theo- 
logical treatises his impulse to know and state appears 
finally actualized in-'lthe systematic formulation of convic- 
tions upon topics of lultimate interest, to wit, theology, the 
contents of the Christian Faith, the full relationship of God 
and man. Did he sever theology from philosophy ? Nay, 
rather, with him theology was ultimate philosophy. 

Several times Abaelard rewrote what was substantially 
the same general work upon Theology. In one of its 
earliest forms it was burnt by the Council of Soissons 
in 1121.^ In another form it exists under the title 
Theologia Christiana ; ^ and the first part of its apparently 
final revision is now improperly entitled, Introductio ad 

1 Ante, pp. 334 sqq. 

^ This has been published by Stolzle : Abaelards 121 1 zu Soissons verurteilter 
Tradatus de Unitate et Trinitate divina (1891). 

^ Migne 178, col. 1123-1330; Cousin and Jourdain, P. Abaelardi opera, ii. 
pp. 357-566 (1859). 

* Ibid. col. 979-1114 ; Cousin and Jourdain, o.c. pp. 1-149. 


The first Book of the Theologia Christiana is an exposition 
of the Trinity, not dinched in syllogisms, but consisting 
mainly of an orderly presentation of the patristic authorities 
supporting the author's view of the matter. The testimonies 
of profane writers are also given. Liber 11. opens by saying 
that in the former part of the work " we have collected the 
testimonia of prophets and philosophers, in support of the 
faith of the Holy Trinity." Hereupon, by the same method 
of adducing authorities, Abaelard proceeds to refute those 
who had blamed him for citing the pagan philosophers. 
He marshals his supporting excerpts from the Fathers, and 
remarks : " That nothing is more needful for the defence of 
our faith than that as against the importunities of all the 
infidels we should have witness from themselves wherewith 
to refute them." Then he points to the moral worth of 
some of the philosophers, to their true teaching of the soul's 
immortality, and quotes Horace's 

" Oderunt peccare boni virtutis amore." 

He continues at some length setting forth their well- 
nigh evangelical virtue, and speaks of the Gospel as refor- 
matio legis naturalis. 

At the beginning of Liber III. comes the statement : 
" We set the faith of the blessed Trinity as the foundation 
of all good." Whereupon Abaelard breaks out in a de- 
nunciation of those who misuse dialectic ; but again he 
passes to a defence of the art as an art and branch of know- 
ledge, and shows its need as a weapon against those wranglers 
who will be quieted neither by the authority of the saints 
nor the philosophers : against whom, he, Abaelard, trusting 
in the divine aid, will turn this weapon as David did the 
sword of Goliath. He now states the true object of his 
work : " First then is to be set forth the theme of our whole 
labour, and the sum of faith ; the unity of the divine 
substance and the Trinity of persons, which are in God, 
and are one God. Next we state the objections to our 
theses, and then the solutions of those objections." And he 
gives the substance of the Athanasian Creed. From this 
point, his work becomes more dialectical and constructive, 
although of course continuing to quote authorities. He is 


emboldened to discuss the deepest mysteries, the very 
penetraHa of the Trmity, and in a way which might well 
alarm men like Bernard, who desired acceptance of the 
Faith, with rhetoric, but without discussion. To be sure 
Abaelard pauses to justify himself by reverting to his 
apologetic purpose : " Heretics must be coerced with reason 
rather than by force." However this may be, the work 
henceforth shows the passing on of logic to the exercise 
of its architectonic functions in constructing a systematic 
theological metaphysics. 

The miscalled Introductio ad theologiam, as might be 
expected of a last revision of the author's Theology, is a 
more organic work. In the Prologue, Abaelard speaks of 
it as a Summa sacrae eruditionis or an Introductio to Divine 
Scripture. And again he states the justifying purpose of 
his labour, or rather puts it into the mouths of his disciples 
who have asked for such a work from him : " Since our 
faith, the Christian Faith, seems entangled in such difficult 
questions, and to stand apart from human reason [et ah 
humana ratione longius absistere), it should be fortified by 
so much the stronger arguments, especially against the 
attacks of those who call themselves philosophers." Con- 
tinuing, Abaelard protests that if in any way, for his sins, 
he should deviate from the Catholic understanding and 
statement, he wall on seeing his error revise the same, like 
the blessed Augustine. 

The work itself opens with a statement of its intended 
divisions : "In three matters, as I judge, rests the sum of 
human salvation : Fides, caritas, and sacr amentum " ; and 
he gives his definition of faith, which was so obnoxious to 
Bernard and others, as the existimatio rerum non apparentium. 
The three extant Books do not conclude the treatment even 
of the first of these three topics. But one readily sees that 
were the work complete, its arrangement might correspond 
with that of Thomas's Summa} One may reiterate that it 
was more constructively argumentative than the Theologia 
Christiana, even in the manner of using the cited authorities. 
For instance, Abaelard's mind is fixed on the analogy 
between the Neo-Platonic Trinity of Deus, nous, and anima 

1 Ante, Chapter XXXVI., i. 


mundi, and that of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The 
nous fitly represents Christ, who is the Sapientia Dei — which 
Abaelard sets forth ; but then with even greater insistency 
he identifies the Holy Spirit with the world-soul. Nothing 
gave a stronger warrant to the accusations of heresy brought 
against him than this last doctrine, with which he was 
obsessed. Yet what roused St. Bernard and his jackals 
was not so much any particular opinion of Abaelard, as his 
dialectic and critical spirit, which insisted upon under- 
standing and explaining, before believing. " The faith 
of the righteous believes ; it does not dispute. But that 
man, suspicious of God {Deum hahens suspectum), has no 
mind to believe what his reason has not previously 
argued." ^ 

Still, when Bernard says that faith does not discuss, but 
believes, he states a conviction of his mind, a conviction 
corresponding with an inner need of his own to formulate 
and express his thoughi;. With Abaelard the need to con- 
sider and analyse was more consciously imperative. He 
could not avoid the constant query : How shall I think 
this thing — this thing, for example, which is declared by 
revelation ? Just as other questioning spirits in other times 
might be driven upon the query : How shall we think these 
things which are disclosed by the variegated walls of our 
physical environment ? Those yield data, or refuse them, 
and force the mind to put many queries, and come to some 
adjustment. So experience presents data for adjustment, 
just as dogma and Scripture and revelation present that 
which reason must bring within the action of its processes, and 
endeavour to find rational expression for, 


The greatest dialectician of the early twelfth century 
felt no problems put him by the physical world. That did 
not attract his inquiry ; it did not touch the reasonings 
evolved by his self -consciousness, any more than it impressed 
the fervid mind of his great adversary, St. Bernard. The 
natural world, however, stirred the mind of Abaelard's con- 

^ Bernard, Ep. 338 (Migne 182, col. 542). 
VOL. II 2 C 


temporary, Hugo of St. Victor.^ Its colours waved before 
his reveries, and its visible sublimities drew his mind aloft 
to the contemplation of God : for him its things were all the 
things of God — opus conditionis or opus restaurationis ; ^ the 
work of foundation, whereby God created the physical world 
for the support and edification of its crowning creature man ; 
and the work of restoration, to wit, the incarnation of the 
Word, and all its sacraments. 

Hugo was a Platonic and very Christian theologian. 
He would reason and expound, and yet was well aware that 
reason could not fathom the nature of God, or bring man 
to salvation. " Logic, mathematics, physics teach some 
truth, yet do not reach that truth wherein is the soul's safety, 
without which whatever is is vain." ^ So Hugo was not 
primarily a logician, like Abaelard ; nor did he care chiefly 
for the kind of truth which might be had through logic. 
Nevertheless the productions of his short life prove the ex- 
cellence of his mind and his large enthusiasm for knowledge. 

As Hugo was the head of the school of St. Victor for 
some years before his death, certain of his works cover 
topics of ordinary mediaeval education, secular and religious ; 
while others advance to a more profound expression of the 
intellectual, or spiritual, interests of their author. For 
elementary religious instruction, he composed a veritable 
book of Sentences,'^ which preceded the Lombard's in time, 
but was later than Abaelard's Sic et non. Without striking 
features, it lucidly and amiably carried out its general 
purpose of setting forth the authoritative explanations of the 
elements of the Christian Faith. The writer did not hesitate 
to quote opposing views, which were not heralded, however, 
by such danger-signals of contradiction as flare from the 
chapter headings of the Sic et non. 

The corresponding treatise upon profane learning — the 

^ Whose sacramental theory of the Creation has abready been given at length, 
ante. Chapter XXIX. For the incidents of Hugo's life see the same chapter. 
Bibliography, note to page 87. See also Ostler, " Die Psychologic des Hugo 
von St. Viktor" (Baeumker's Beitrdge, Miinster, 1906). 

^ De script, cap. 2 (Migne 175, col. 11). 

^ De script, cap. 2 (Migne 175, col. 10). 

* Summa sententiarum (Migne 176, col. 42-174) ; also under title of Tractatus 
theologictcs, wrongly ascribed to Hildebert of Lavardin, in Migne 171, col. 1067- 


Eruditio didascalica — is of greater interest.^ It commences 
in elementary fashion, as a manual of study : " There are 
two things by which we gain knowledge, to wit, reading 
and meditation ; reading comes first." The book is to be 
a guide to the student in the study both of secular and 
divine writings ; it teaches how to study the artes, and then 
how to study the Scriptures. ^ Even in this manual, Hugo 
shows himself a meditative soul, and one who seeks to base 
his most elementary expositions upon the nature and needs 
of man. The mind, says he, is distracted by things of 
sense, and does not know itself. It is renewed through 
study, so that it learns again not to look without for what 
itself affords. Learning is life's solace, which he who finds 
is happy, and he who makes his own is blessed.^ 

For Hugo, philosophy is that which investigates the 
rationes of things human and divine, seeking ever the final 
wisdom, which is knowledge of the primaeva ratio : this 
distinguishes philosophy from the practical sciences, like 
agriculture : it follows the ratio, and they administer the 
matter. Again and again, Hugo returns to the thought 
that the object of all human actiones and studia is to restore 
the integrity of our nature or mitigate its weaknesses, restore 
the image of the divine similitude in us, or minister to the 
needs of life. This likeness is renewed by speculatio veritatis, 
or exercitium virtutis.^ 

Such is a pretty broad basis of theory for a high school 
manual. Hugo proceeds to set forth the scheme, rather 
than the substance, of the arts and sciences, pausing 
occasionally to admonish the reader to hold no science 
vile, since knowledge always is good ; and he points out 
that all knowledge hangs together in a common coher- 
ency. He sketches ^ the true student's life : Whoever seeks 
learning, must not neglect discipline ! He must be humble, 
and not ashamed to learn from any one ; he must observe 
decent manners, and not play the fool and make faces at 

1 Migne 176, col. 740-838. 

* I think of no previous work so closely resembling the Erud. didas. as the 
Institutiones divinarum et saecularum lectionum of Cassiodorus. 

3 Erud. did. i. 2. 

* Here one sees the source of much that we quoted from Vincent de 
Beauvais, ante. Chapter XXXVI., i. 

^ Lib. iii. cap. 13 sqq. 


lecturers on divinity, for thereby he insults God. Yea, and 
let him mind the example of the ancient sages, who for 
learning's sake spurned honours, rejected riches, rejoiced in 
insults, deserted the companionship of men, and gave 
themselves up to philosophy in desert solitudes, that they 
might be more free for meditation. Diligent search for 
wisdom in quietude becomes a scholar ; and likewise 
poverty, and likewise exile : he is very delicate who clings 
to his fatherland ; " He is brave to whom every land is 
home {patria) ; and he is perfect to whom the whole world 
is an exile ! " ^ 

Hugo has much to say of the pulchritudo and the decor 
of the creature-world. But with him the world and its 
beauty point to God. One should observe it because of 
its suggestiveness, the visible suggesting the invisible. 
Hugo has already been followed in his argument that the 
world, in its veriest reality, is a symbol.'^ Here we follow 
him along his path of knowledge, which leads on and 
upward from cogitatio, through meditatio, to contemplatio. 
The steps in Hugo's scheme are rational, though the 
summit lies beyond. This path to truth, leading on from 
the visible symbol to the unseen power, is for him the 
reason and justification of study ; drawing to God, it makes 
for man's salvation. 

Hugo has put perhaps his most lucid exposition of the 
three grades of knowledge into the first of his Nineteen 
Sermons on Ecdesiastes.^ He is fond of certain numbers, 
and here his thought revolves in categories of the number 
three. Solomon composed three works, the Proverbs, 
Ecclesiastes, and Canticles. In the first, he addresses his 
son paternally, admonishing him to pursue virtue and shun 
vice ; in the second, he shows the grown man that nothing 
in the world is stable ; finally, in Canticles, he brings the 
consummate one, who has spurned the world, to the 
Bridegroom's arms. 

" Three are the modes of cognition {visiones) belonging to 
the rational soul : cogitation, meditation, contemplation. It is 

^ Erud. did. iii. cap. 20. Cf. ante, p. 89. 
2 Ante, Chapter XXIX. ^ Migne, Pat. Lat. 175, col. 115 sqq. 


cogitation when the mind is touched with the ideas of things, 
and the thing itself is by its image presented suddenly, either 
entering the mind through sense or rising from memory. 
Meditation is the assiduous and sagacious revision of cogitation, 
and strives to explain the involved, and penetrate the hidden. 
Contemplation is the mind's perspicacious and free attention, 
diffused everywhere throughout the range of whatever may 
be explored. There is this difference between meditation and 
contemplation : meditation relates always to things hidden 
from our intelligence ; contemplation relates to things made 
manifest, either according to their nature or our capacity. 
Meditation always is occupied with some one matter to be 
investigated ; contemplation spreads abroad for the comprehend- 
ing of many things, even the universe. Thus meditation is a 
certain inquisitive power of the mind, sagaciously striving to 
look into the obscure and unravel the perplexed. Contemplation 
is that acumen of intelligence which, keeping all things open to 
view, comprehends all with clear vision. Thus contemplation 
has what meditation seeks. 

" There are two kinds of contemplation : the first is for 
beginners, and considers creatures ; the kind which comes later, 
belongs to the perfect, and contemplates the Creator. In the 
Proverbs, Solomon proceeds as through meditation. In Ecclesi- 
astes, he ascends to the first grade of contemplation. In the 
Song of Songs, he transports himself to the final grade. In 
meditation there is a wrestHng of ignorance with knowledge ; 
and the fight of truth gleams as in a fog of error. So fire is 
kindled with difficulty in a heap of green wood ; but then fanned 
with stronger breath, the flame burns higher, and we see volumes 
of smoke rolfing up, with flame flashing through. Little by 
Httle the damp is exhausted, and the leaping fire dispels the 
smoke. Then victrix flamma darting through the heap of crack- 
ling wood, springs from branch to branch, and with lambent 
grasp catches upon every twig ; nor does it rest until it penetrates 
everywhere and draws into itself all that it finds which is not 
flame. At length the whole combustible material is purged of 
its own nature and passes into the simihtude and property of 
fire ; then the din is hushed, and the voracious fire having 
subdued aU, and brought aU into its own hkeness, composes 
itself to a high peace and silence, finding nothing more that is 
ahen or opposed to itself. First there was fire with flame and 
smoke ; then fire with flame, without smoke ; and at last 
pure fire with neither flame nor smoke." 

So the victrix flamma achieves the three stages of 
spiritual insight, fighting its way through the smoke of 


cogitation, through the smoke and flame of meditation 
and at last through the flame of creature contemplation, 
to the high peace of God, where all is love's ardent vision, 
without flame or smoke. It is thus through the grades of 
knowledge that the soul reaches at last that fulness of 
intelligence which may be made perfect and inflamed with 
love, in the contemplation of God. All knowledge is 
good according to its grade ; only let it always lead on to 
God, and with humility. Hugo makes his principles clear 
at the opening of his commentary on the Celestial Hierarchy 
of Dionysius.^ 

" The Jews seek a sign, and the Greeks wisdom. There was a 
certain wisdom which seemed such to them who knew not the 
true wisdom. The world found it, and began to be puffed up, 
thinking itself great in this. Confiding in its wisdom, it presumed, 
and boasted that it would attain the highest wisdom. . . . And 
it made itself a ladder of the face of the creation, shining toward 
the invisible things of the Creator. . . . Then those things 
which were seen were known, and there were other things which 
were not known ; and through those which were manifest they 
expected to reach those which were hidden ; and they stumbled 
and fell into the falsehoods of their own imaginings. ... So 
God made foolish the wisdom of this world ; and He pointed out 
another wisdom, which seemed foolishness, and was not. For 
it preached Christ crucified, in order that truth might be sought 
in humility. But the world despised it, wishing to contemplate 
the works of God, which He had made to be marvelled at, and 
it did not wish to venerate what He had set for imitation. 
Neither did it look to its own disease, and seek a medicine with 
piety ; but presuming on a false health, it gave itself over with 
vain curiosity to the study of alien matters." 

This study made the wisdom of the world, whereby it 
devised the arts and sciences which we still learn. But the 
world in its pride did not read aright the great book of 
nature. It had not the knowledge of the true Exemplar, 
for the sanitation of its inner vision, to wit, the flesh of the 
eternal Word in the humanity of Jesus. 

" There were two images {simulacra) set for man, in which he 
might perceive the unseen : one consisting of nature, the other of 
grace. The former image was the face of this world ; the latter 

1 Migae, Pat. Lat. 175, col. 923 sqq. 


was the humanity of the Word. And God is shown in both, but 
He is not understood in both ; since the appearance of nature 
discloses the artificer, but cannot illuminate the eyes of him who 
contemplates it." 

Hugo then classifies the sciences in the usual Aristotelian 
way, and shows that Christian theology is the end of all 
philosophy. The first part of philosophia theorica is 
mathematics, which speculates as to the visible forms of 
visible things. The second is physics, which scrutinizes the 
invisible causes of visible things. The third, theology, alone 
contemplates invisible substances and their invisible natures. 
Herein is a certain progression ; and the mind mounts to 
knowledge of the true. Through the visible forms of visible 
things, it comes to invisible causes of visible things ; and 
through the invisible causes of visible things, it ascends to 
invisible substances, and to knowing their natures. This 
is the summit of philosophy and the perfection of truth. 
In this, as already said, the wise of this world were made 
foolish ; because proceeding by the natural document alone, 
making account only of the elements and appearance of the 
world, they missed the instructive instances of Grace : which 
in spite of humble guise afford the clearer insight into 

This is Hugo's scheme of knowledge ; it begins with 
cogitatio, then proceeds through meditatio to contemplatio 
of the creature world, and finally of the Creator. The arts 
and sciences, as well as the face of nature, afford a simu- 
lacrum of the unseen Power ; but all this knowledge by 
itself will not bring man to the perfect knowledge of God. 
For this he needs the exemplar ia of Grace, shown through 
the incarnation of the Word. Only by virtue of this added 
means, may man attain to perfect contemplation of the 
truth of God. That end and final summit is beyond 
reason's reach ; but the attainment of rational knowledge 
makes part of the path thither. Keen as was Hugo's 
intellectual nature, his interest in reason was coupled with 
a deeper interest in that which reason might neither include 
nor understand. The intellect does not include the emotional 
and immediately desiderative elements of human nature ; 
neither can it comprehend the infinite which is God ; and 


Hugo drew toward God not only through his intellect, but 
likewise through his desiderative nature, with its yearnings 
of religious love. That love with him was rational, since 
its object satisfied his mind as far as his mind could 
comprehend it. 

So Hugo's intellectual interests were connected with the 
emotional side of human nature, and also led up to what 
transcended reason. Thus they led to what was a mystery 
because too great for human reason, and they included 
that which also was somewhat of a mystery to reason 
because lying partly outside its sphere. Hugo is an instance 
of the intellectual nature which will not rest in reason's pro- 
vince, but feels equally impelled to find expression for matters 
that either exceed the mind, or do not altogether belong to 
it. Such an intellect is impelled to formulate its convictions 
in regard to these ; its negative conviction that it cannot 
comprehend them, and why it cannot ; and its more positive 
conviction of their value — of the absolute worth of God, 
and of man's need of Him, and of the love and fear by 
which men may come close to Him, or avoid His wrath. 

What Hugo has had to say as to cogitation, meditation, 
and contemplation, represents his analysis of the stages by 
which a sufficing sense may be reached of the Creator and 
His world of creature-kind. In this final wisdom and ardour 
of contemplation, both human reason and human love have 
part. The intellect advances along its lines, considering 
the world, and drawing inferences as to the unseen Being 
who created and sustains it. Mind's unaided power will 
not reach. But by the grace of God, supremely manifested 
in the Incarnation, the man is humbled, and his heart is 
touched and drawn to love the power of the divine pity and 
humility. The lesson of the Incarnation and its guiding 
grace, emboldens the heart and enlightens the mind ; and 
the man's faculties are strengthened and uplifted to the 
contemplation of God, wherein the mind is satisfied and the 
heart at rest. 

We have here the elements of piety, intellectual and 
devotional. Hugo is an example of their union ; they also 
preserve their equal weight in Aquinas. But because Hugo 
emphasizes the limitations of the intellect, and so ardently 


recognizes the heart's yearning and immediacy of appercep- 
tion, he is what is styled a mystic ; a term which we are 
now in a position to consider, and, to some extent, exchange 
for other phrases of more definite significance.^ 

Quite to avoid the term is not possible, inasmuch as the 
conception certainly includes what is mysterious because 
unknowable through reason. For it includes a sense of 
the supreme, a sense of God, who is too great for human 
reason to comprehend, and therefore a mystery. And it 
includes a yearning toward God, the desire of Him, and the 
feeling of love. The last is also mysterious, in that it has 
not exclusive part with reason, but springs as well from 
feeling. Yet the essence or nature of this spirit of piety 
which we would analyse, consists in consciousness of the 
reality of the object of its yearning or devotion. Not 
altogether through induction or deduction, but with an 
irrational immediacy of conviction, it feels and knows its 
object. In place of the knowledge which is mediated through 
rational processes, is substituted a conviction upheld by 
yearning, love's conviction indeed, of the reality and presence 
of that which is all the greater and more worthy because it 
baffles reason. And the final goal attainable by this 
mystic love is, even as the goal of other love, union with 
the Beloved. 

The mystic spirit is an essential part of all piety or 
religion, which relates always and forever to the rationally 
unknown and therefore mysterious. Without a conscious- 
ness of mystery, there can be neither piety nor religion. Nor 
can there be piety without some devotion to God, nor the 
deepest and most ardent forms of piety, without fervent 
love of God. This devotion and this love supply strength 
of conviction, creating a realness of communion with 
the divine, and an assurance of the soul's rest and peace 
therein. But that the intellect has part, Hugo abundantly 
demonstrates. One must have perceptions, and thought's 
severest wrestlings — cogitatio and meditatio — before reaching 
the first stage of wide and sure intelligence, which relates 

1 The following consideration of the mysticism of Christian theologians is not 
intended to include other forms of " mysticism " (Pantheistic, poetical, patho- 
logical, neurotic, intellectual, and sensuous) within or without the Christian pale. 


to the creature world, and affords a broad basis of assurance, 
whence at last the soul shall spring to God. Intellectual 
perceptions and rational knowledge, and all the mind's 
puttings together of its data in inductions and deductions 
and constructions, form a basis for contemplation, and yield 
material upon which the emotional side of human nature 
may exercise itself in yearning and devotion. Herein the 
constructive imagination works ; which is intellectual faculty 
illuminated and impelled by the emotions. 

This spirit actualizes itself in the power and scope of 
its resultant conviction, by which it makes real to itself the 
qualities, attributes, and actions of its object, God, and the 
nature of man's relationship or union with the divine. In 
its final energy, when only partly conscious of its intellectual 
inductions, it discards syllogisms, quite dissatisfied with their 
devious and hesitating approach. Instead, by the power of 
love, it springs directly to its God. Nevertheless, the soul 
which feels the inadequacy of reason even to voice the 
soul's desires, will seek means of expression wherein reason 
still will play a submerged part. The soul is seeking to 
express what is not altogether expressible in direct and 
rational statement. It seeks adumbrations, partial unveilings 
of its sentiments, which shall perhaps make up in warmth 
of colour what they lack in definiteness of line. In fine, it 
seeks symbols. Such symbolism must be large and elastic, 
in order to shadow forth the soul's relations with the Infinite ; 
it must also be capable of carrying passion, that it may 
satisfy the soul's craving to give voice to its great love. 

In Greek thought as well as in the Hellenizing Judaism 
of a Philo, symbolism, or more specifically speaking, alle- 
gorical interpretation, was obviously apologetic, seeking to 
cloud in naturalistic interpretations the doings of the rather 
over-human gods of Greece.^ But it sprang also from the 
unresting need of man to find expression for that sense of 
things which will not fit definite statement. This was the 
need which became creative, and of necessity fancifully 
creative, with Plato. Though he would have nothing to do 
with falsifying apologetics, all the more he felt the need of 
allegories, to suggest what his dialectic could not formulate. 

1 Ante, p. 68 sqq. 


In the early times of the Church mUitant of Christ, alle- 
gorical interpretation was exploited to defend the Faith ; m 
the later patristic period, the Faith had so far triumphed, 
that allegory as a sword of defence and attack might be 
sheathed, or just allowed to glitter now and then half-drawn. 
But piety's other need, with increasing energy, compelled 
the use of symbols and articulate allegory to express the 
directly inexpressible. Thereafter through the Middle Ages, 
while the use of allegory as a defence against the Gentiles 
slumbered, so much more the other need of it, and the sense 
of the universal symbolism of material things, filled the 
minds of men ; and in age-long answer to this need, alle- 
gory, symbolism, became part of the very spirit of the 

mediaeval time. 

Thus it became the universal vehicle of pious expression : 
it may be said almost to have co-extended with all mediaeval 
piety. It was ardently loving, as with St. Bernard ; it 
might be filled with scarlet passion, as with Mechthild of 
Magdeburg • or it might be used in the self-conscious, and 
yet inspired vision-pictures of Hildegard of Bingen. And 
indeed with almost any mediaeval man or woman, it might 
keep talking, as a way of speech, obtrusively, conventionally, 
ad nauseam. For indeed in treatise after treatise even of 
the better men, allegory seems on the one hand to become 
very fooHsh and perverse, banal, intolerably talking on and 
on beyond the point ; or again we sense its mechanism, 
hear the creaking of its jaws, while no living voice emerges, 
—and we suspect that the mystery of life, if it may not be 
compassed by direct statement, also lies deeper than alle- 
gorical conventions. . . 

Hugo's great De sacramentis showed the equipoise ot 
intellectual and pietistic interests in him, and the Platonic 
quality of his mind's sure sense of the reality of the super- 
sensual 1 Other treatises of his show his yearning piety, and 
the Augustinian quality of his soul, " made toward thee and 
unquiet till it rests in thee." The De area Noe morah,^ that 
is to say, the Ark of Noah viewed in its moral significance, 
is charming in its spiritual refinement, and interesting m its 

1 Ante, Chapter XXIX. 
2 Migne, Pat. Lot. 176, col. 617-680. 


catholic intellectual reflections. The Prologue presents a 
situation : 

" As I was sitting once among the brethren, and they were 
asking questions, and I replying, and many matters had been cited 
and adduced, it came about that all of us at once began to marvel 
vehemently at the unstableness and disquiet of the human heart ; 
and we began to sigh. Then they pleaded with me that I would 
show them the cause of such whirlings of thought in the human 
heart ; and they besought me to set forth by what art or exercise 
of discipline this evil might be removed. I indeed wished to 
satisfy my brethren, so far as God might aid me, and untie the 
knot of their questions, both by authority and by argument. 
I knew it would please them most if I should compose my matter 
to read to them at table. 

" It was my plan to show first whence arise such violent 
changes in man's heart, and then how the mind may be led to 
keep itself in stable peace. And although I had no doubt that 
this is the proper work of grace, rather than of human labour, 
nevertheless I know that God wishes us to co-operate. Besides, 
it is well to know the magnitude of our weakness and the mode 
of its repairing, since so much the deeper will be our gratitude. 

" The first man was so created, that if he had not sinned, 
he would always have beheld in present contemplation his 
Creator's face, and by always seeing Him, would have loved Him 
always, and, by loving, would always have clung close to Him, 
and by clinging to Him who was eternal, would have possessed 
life without end. Evidently the one true good of man was 
perfect knowledge of his Creator. But he was driven from the 
face of the Lord, since for his sin he was struck with the blindness 
of ignorance, and passed from that intimate light of contemplation ; 
and he inclined his mind to earthly desires, as he began to forget 
the sweetness of the divine. Thus he was made a wanderer and 
fugitive over the earth. A wanderer indeed, because of dis- 
ordered concupiscence ; and a fugitive, through guilty conscience, 
which feels every man's hand against it. For every temptation 
will overcome the man who has lost God's aid. 

" So man's heart which had been kept secure by divine love, 
and one by loving one, afterwards began to flow here and there 
through earthly desires. For the mind which knows not to love 
its true good, is never stable and never rests. Hence restlessness, 
and ceaseless labour, and disquiet, until the man turns and 
adheres to Him. The sick heart wavers and quivers ; the cause 
of its disease is love of the world ; the remedy, the love of God." 

Hugo's object is to give rest to the restless heart, by 


directing its love to God. One still bears in mind his three 
plains of knowledge, forming perhaps the three stages of 
ascent, at the top of which is found the knowledge that turns 
to divine contemplation and love. There may be a direct 
and simple love of God for simple souls ; but for the man 
of mind, knowledge precedes love. 

" In two ways God dwells in the human heart, to wit, through 
knowledge and through love ; yet the dwelling is one, since 
every one who knows Him, loves, and no one can love without 
knowing. Knowledge through cognition of the Faith erects the 
structure ; love through virtue, paints the edifice with colour." ^ 

Then make a habitation for God in thy heart. This is 
the great matter, and indeed all : for this, Scripture exists, 
and the world was made, and God became flesh, through 
His humility making man sublime. The Ark of Noah is 
the type of this spiritual edifice, as it is also the type of the 

The piety and Allegory of this work rise as from a basis 
of knowledge. The allegory indeed is drawn out and out, 
until it seems to become sheer circumlocution. This was 
the mediaeval way, and Hugo's too, alas ! We will not 
follow further in this treatise, nor take up his De area Noe 
mystica,^ which carries out into still further detail the 
symbolism of the Ark, and applies it to the Church and 
the people of God. Hugo has also left a colloquy between 
man and his soul on the true love, which lies in spiritual 
meditation.^ But it is clear that the reaches of Hugo's 
yearning are still grounded in intellectual considerations, 
though these may be no longer present in the mind of him 
whose consciousness is transformed to love. 

One may discern the same progression, from painful 
thought to surer contemplation, and thence to the heart's 
devoted communion, in him whom we have called the Thor 
and Loki of the Church. No twelfth-century soul loved 
God more zealously than St. Bernard. He was not strong 

^ De area Noe morali, i. cap. 2 (Migne 176, col. 621). 

^ Migne 176, col. 681-703. With Hugo's pupU, Richard of St. Victor, this 
constant allegory, especially the constant altegorical use of Scripture names, 
becomes pedantic, precieux, impossible. See e.g. his Benjamin major in Migne 
196, col. 64-202. 

^ De arrha animae, Migne 176, col. 951-970. 


in abstract reasoning. His mind needed the compulsion of 
the passions to move it to subHme conclusions. Commonly 
he is dubbed a mystic. But his piety and love of God 
poise themselves on a basis of consideration before springing 
to soar on other wings. In his De consider atione} Bernard 
explains that word in the sense given by Hugo to meditatio, 
while he uses contemplatio very much as Hugo does. It 
applies to things that have become certain to the mind, 
while " consider atio is busy investigating. In this sense 
contemplatio may be defined as the true and certain intuition 
of the mind [intuitus animi) regarding anything, or the sure 
apprehension of the true : while consideratio is thought 
intently searching, or the mind's endeavour to track out the 
true." 2 

Contemplatio, even though it forget itself in ecstasy, must 
be based on prior consideration ; then it may take wings of 
its own, or rather (with orthodox Hugo and Bernard) wings 
of grace, and fly to the bosom of its God. This flight is the 
immediacy of conviction and the ecstasy which follows. 
One may even perceive the thinking going on during the 
soul's outpour of love. For the mind still supports the 
soul's ardour with reasonings, original or borrowed, as 
appears in the second sermon of that long series preached 
by Bernard on Canticles to his own spiritual elite of 
Clairvaux.^ The saintly orator is yearning, yearning for 
Christ Himself ; he will have naught of Moses or Isaiah ; 
nor does he desire dreams, or care for angels' visits : ipse, 
ipse me osculetur, cries his soul in the words of Canticles — ^let 
Him kiss me. The phrasing seems symbolical ; but the 
yearning is direct, and at least rhetorically overmastering. 
The emotion is justified by its reasons. They lie in the 
personality of Christ and Bernard's love of Him, rising from 
all his knowledge of Him, even from his experience of Jesus' 
whisperings to the soul. He knows how vastly Jesus sur- 
passes the human prophets who prefigured or foretold Him : 
ipsos longe superat Jesus meus — the word meus is love's very 

^ Migne 182, col. 727-808. Translated by George Lewis in the Oxford Library 
of Translations. 

^ De consid. lib. ii. cap. 2. 

^ Migne 183, col. 789 sqq. Chapter XVIIL, ante, is devoted to Bernard, and 
his letters and sermons. 


articulation. The orator cries : " Listen ! Let the kissing 
mouth be the Word assuming flesh ; and the mouth kissed 
be the flesh which is assumed ; then the kiss which is 
consummated between them is the persona compacted of 
the two, to wit, the mediator of God and men, the man 
Christ Jesus." 

This identical allegory goes back to Origen's Commentary 
on Canticles. Bernard has kindled it with an intimate love 
of Jesus, which is not Origen's. But the thought explains 
and justifies Bernard's desire to be kissed by the kiss of His 
mouth, and so to be infolded in the divine love which " gave 
His only-begotten Son," and also became flesh. Os osculans 
signifies the Incarnation : one realizes the emotional power 
which that saving thought would take through such a 
metaphor. At the end of his sermon, Bernard sums up the 
conclusion, so that his hearers may carry it away : 

"It is plain that this holy kiss was a grace needed by the 
world, to give faith to the weak, and satisfy the desire of the 
perfect. The kiss itself is none other than the mediator of God 
and men, the man Christ Jesus, who with the Father and the 
Holy Spirit Uves and reigns God, per omnia saecula saeculorum, 


There is small propriety in speaking of these men of 
the first half of the twelfth century as Platonists or Aristo- 
telians ; nor is there great interest in trying to find in Plato 
or Aristotle or Plotinus the specific origin of any of their 
thoughts. They were apt to draw on the source nearest 
and most convenient ; and one must remember that their 
immediate philosophic antecedents were not the distinct 
systems of Plato and Aristotle and Plotinus, but rather the 
late pagan eras of eclecticism, followed by that strongly 
motived syntheticism of the Church Fathers which selected 
whatever might accord with their Christian scheme. So 
Abaelard must not be called an Aristotelian. Neither he 
nor his contemporaries knew what an Aristotelian was, 
and when they called Abaelard Peripaieticus, they meant 
one skilled in the logic which was derived from the simpler 
treatises of Aristotle's Organon. Nor will we call Hugo a 


Platonist, in spite of his fine affinities with Plato ; for many 
of Hugo's thoughts, his classification of the sciences for 
example, pointed, back to Aristotle. 

Abaelard, Hugo, St. Bernard suggest the triangulation 
of the epoch's intellectual interests. Peter Lombard, some- 
what their junior, presents its compend of accepted and 
partly digested theology. He took his method from 
Abaelard, and drew whole chapters of his work from Hugo ; 
but his great source, which was also theirs, was Augustine, 
The Lombard was, and was to be, a representative man ; for 
his Sentences brought together the ultimate problems which 
exercised the minds of the men of his time and after. 

The early and central decades of the twelfth century 
offer other persons who may serve to round out our general 
notion of the character of the intellectual interests which 
occupied the period before the rediscovery of Aristotle, that 
is, of the substantial Aristotelian encyclopaedia of knowledge. 
Among such Adelard of Bath (England) was somewhat older 
than Abaelard. His keen pursuit of knowledge made him 
one of its early pilgrims to Spain and Greece. He compiled 
a book of Quaestiones naturales, and another called De eodem 
et diver so} in which he struggled with the problem of uni- 
versal, and with palpable problems of psychology. His 
cosmology shows a genial culling from the Timaeus fragment 
of Plato, and such other bits of Greek philosophy as he had 
access to. 

Adelard was influenced by the views of men who taught 
or studied at Chartres. Bernard of Chartres, the first of the 
great Chartrian teachers of the early twelfth century, ^ wrote 
on Porphyry, and after his death was called by John of Salis- 
bury perfectissimus inter Platonicos saeculi nostri. He was 
one of those extreme realists whose teachings might bear 
pantheistic fruit in his disciples ; he had also a Platonistic 
imagination, leading him to see in Nature a living organism. 
Bernard's younger brother, Thierry, also called of Chartres, 
extended his range of studies, and compiled numerous works 
on natural knowledge, indicating his wide reading and 
receptive nature. His realism brought him very close to 

^ Ed. by Willner (Baeumker's Beitrage, Miinster, 1903). 
* See ante, Chapter XXXI,, i. 


pantheism, which indeed flowered poetically in his admirer 
or pupil, Bernard Silvestris of Tours. 

If we should analyze the contents of the latter's De 
mundi universitate, it might be necessary to affirm that the 
author was a dualistic thinker, in that he recognized two first 
principles, God and matter ; and also that he was a pantheist, 
because of the way in which he sees in God the source of 
Nature : " This mind {nous) of the supreme God is soul 
{intellectus) , and from its divinity Nature is born." ^ One 
should not, however, drive the heterogeneous thoughts of 
these twelfth-century people to their opposite conclusions. 
A moderate degree of historical insight should prevent our 
interpreting their gleanings from the past by formulas of our 
own greater knowledge. Doubtless their books — Hugo's as 
well as Thierry's and Bernard Silvester's — have enough of 
contradiction if we will probe for it with a spirit not their 
own. But if we will see with their eyes and perceive with 
their feelings, we shall find ourselves resting with each of 
them in some unity of personal temperament ; and that, 
rather than any half -borrowed thought, is Hugo or Thierry 
or Bernard Silvestris. Silvester's book, De mundi universi- 
tate, sive Megacosmus et microcosmus, is a half poem, like 
Boethius's De consolatione and a number of mediaeval pro- 
ductions to which there has been occasion to allude. It is 
fruitless to dissect such a composite of prose and verse. In 
it Natura speaks to Nous, and then Nous to Natura ; the 
four elements come into play, and nine hierarchies of angels ; 
the stars in their firmaments, and the genesis of things on 
earth ; Physics and her daughters, Theorica and Practica, 
and all the figures of Greek mythology. An analysis of 
such a book will turn it to nonsense, and destroy the breath 
of that twelfth-century temperament which loved to gather 
driftwood from the wreckage of the ancient world of thought. 
Thus perhaps they expected to draw to themselves, even 
from the pagan flotsam, some congenial explanation of the 
universe and man. 

^ Bemardus Silvestris, De mundi universitate, i. 2 (ed. by Barach and Wrobel ; 
Innsbriick, 1876). As to Bernard Silvestris, see Clerval, Scales de Chartres au 
moyen age, p. 259 sqq. and passim ; also Haureau (who confuses him with Bernard 
of Chartres), Hist, de la phil. scholastique, ii. 407 sqq. 

VOL. II 2D- 


A far more acute thinker was Gilbert de la Porree/ who 
taught at Chartres for a number of years, before advancing 
upon Paris in 1141. He next became Bishop of Poictiers, and 
died in 11 54. Like Abaelard, he was primarily a logician, 
and occupied himself with the problem of universals, taking 
a position not so different from Abaelard's. Like Abaelard 
also, Gilbert was brought to task before a council, in which 
St. Bernard sought to be the guiding, scilicet, condemning 
spirit. But the condemnation was confined to certain sen- 
tences, which when cut from their context and presented in 
distorting isolation, the author willingly sacrificed to the 
flames. He refused, some time afterwards, to discuss his 
views privately with the Abbot of Clairvaux, saying that the 
latter was too inexpert a theologian to understand them. 
Gilbert's most famous work, De sex.principiis, attempted to 
complete the last six of Aristotle's ten Categories, which the 
philosopher had treated cursorily ; it was almost to rival the 
work of the Stagirite in authority, for instance, with Albertus 
Magnus, who wrote a Commentary upon it in the same spirit 
with which he commented on the logical treatises of the 

In the same year with Gilbert (11 54) died a man of 
different mental tendencies, William of Conches,^ who like- 
wise had been a pupil of Bernard of Chartres. He was for 
a time the tutor of Henry Plantagenet. William was in- 
terested in natural knowledge, and something of a humanist. 
He made a Commentary on the Timaeus, and wrote various 
works on the philosophy of Nature, in which he wavered 
around an atomistic explanation of the world, yet held fast 
to the Biblical Creation, to save his orthodoxy. He also 
pursued the study of medicine, which was a specialty at 
Chartres ; through the treatises of Constantinus Africanus ^ 
he had some knowledge of the pathological theories of Galen 
and Hippocrates. For his interest in physical knowledge, 

^ See Grabmann, Ges. der schol. Methode, ii. p. 408 sqq. ; Haiireau, Hist. etc. 
ii. '447-472 ; R. L. Poole, Illustrations of Mediaeval Thought, chap. vi. His Liher 
de sex principiis is printed in Migne 188, col. 1257-1270. 

^ Werner, " Die Kosmologie und Naturlehre des scholastischen Mittelalters, 
mit specialler Beziehung auf Wilhelm von Conches," Sitzungsb. K. Akad., philos. 
Klasse, 1873, Bd. Ixxv. ; Haureau, Hist. etc. i. 431-446; ibid. Singularites lit- 
teraires, etc. ^ Ante, Vol. I., p. 252. 


he may be regarded as a precursor of Roger Bacon. On 
the other hand, he was a humanist in his strife against those 
"Cornificiani " who would know no more Latin than was 
needful ; ^ and he compiled from the pagan moralists a sort of 
Summa. It is caUed, in fact, a Summa moralium philoso- 
phorum (an interesting title, connecting it with the Christian 
Summae sententiarum) .^ It treats the virtues under the 
head of de honesto ; and under that of de utile, reviews the 
other good things of mind, body, and estate. It also dis- 
cusses whether there may be a conflict between the honesUim 
and the utile. 

These men of the first half of the twelfth century lived 
before the new revealing of the Aristotelian philosophy and 
natural knowledge coming at the century's close. Their 
muster is finally completed by two younger men, the one an 
Englishman and the other a Lowlander. The youthful years 
of both synchronize with the old age of the men of whom 
we have been speaking. For John of Salisbury was born 
not far from the year 11 15, and died in 1180 ; and Alanus 
de Insulis (Lille) was probably born in 1128, and lived to 
the beginning of the next century. They are spiritually 
connected with the older men because they were taught by 
them, and because they had small share in the coming 
encyclopaedic knowledge. But they close the group : John 
of Salisbury closing it by virtue of his critical estimate of its 
achievement ; Alanus by virtue of his final rehandling of the 
body of intellectual data at its disposal, to which he may 
have made some slight addition. Abaelard knew and used 
the simpler treatises of the Aristotelian Organon of logic. 
He had not studied the Analytics and the Topics, and of 
course was unacquainted with the body of Aristotle's philo- 
sophy outside of logic. John of Salisbury and Alanus know 
the entire Organon ; but neither one nor the other knows 
the rest of Aristotle, which Alexander of Hales was the first 
to. make large use of. 

John of Salisbury, Little John, Johannes Parvus, as he 
was called, was a most excellent classical scholar.^ His 

1 Ante, Chapter XXXI., i. 

* Under another title, Moralis philosophia de honesto et utile, it has been 
ascribed to Hildebert of Lavardin, Migne 171, col. 1007-1056. 
^ For examples of John's Latin, see ante, p. 201. 


was an acute and active intellect, which never tired of 
hearing and weighing the views of other men. He was, 
moreover, a man of large experience, travelling much, and 
listening to all the teachers prominent in his youth. Also he 
was active in affairs, being at one time secretary to Thibaut, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, and then the intimate of Becket, 
of Henry II., and Pope Adrian IV. ! A finished scholar, 
who knew not one thing, but whatever might be known, 
and was enlightened by the training of the world, Little 
John critically estimates the learning and philosophy of the 
men he learns from. Having always an independent point 
of view, he makes acute remarks upon it all, and admirable 
contributions to the sum of current thought. But chiefly he 
seems to us as one who looks with even eye upon whatsoever 
comes within his vision. He knows the weaknesses of men 
and the limitations of branches of discipline ; knows, for 
instance, that dialectic is sterile by itself, but efficient as an 
aid to other disciplines. So, as to logic, John keeps his own 
point of view, and is always reasonable and practical. ^ 
Likewise, with open mind, he considers what there may be 
in the alleged science of the Mathematicians, i.e. diviners 
and astrologers. He uses such phrases as " prohahilia quidem 
sunt haec . . . sed tamen the venom lies under the honey ! " 
For this science sets a fatal necessity on things, and would 
even intrude into the knowledge of the future reserved for 
God's majesty. And as John considers the order of events 
to come, and the diviner's art, cornua succrescunt — the horns 
of more than one dilemma grow.^ 

John knew more than any man of the ancient philo- 
sophies.^ For himself, of course he loved knowledge ; yet 
he would not dissever it from its value in the art of living. 
" Wisdom indeed is a fountain, from which pour forth the 
streams which water the whole earth ; they fill not alone 
the garden of delights of the divine page, but flow on to 
the Gentiles, and do not altogether fail even the Ethiopians. 
... It is certain that the faithful and wise reader, who 

^ See e.g. his treatment of logic in Lib. III. and IV. of the Mdalogicus (Migne 

^ Policraticus, ii. 19-21 sqq. 

* Policraticus, lib. vii., is devoted to a history of antique philosophy. 


from love keeps learning's watch, escapes vice and draws 
near to life." ^ Philosophy is the moderatrix omnium (a 
favourite phrase with John) ; the true philosopher, as Plato 
says, is a lover of God : and so philosophia is amor divinitatis. 
Its precept is to love God with all our strength, and our neigh- 
bour as ourselves : " He who by philosophizing has reached 
charitas, has attained philosophy's true end." ^ John goes 
on to show how deeply they err who think philosophy is but 
a thing of words and arguments : many of those who 
multiply words, by so doing burden the mind. Virtue in- 
separably accompanies wisdom ; this is John's sum of the 
matter. Clearly he is not always, or commonly, wrestling 
with ultimate metaphysical problems ; he busies himself, 
acutely but not metaphysically, with the wisdom of life. 
He too can use the language of piety and contemplation. 
In the sixth chapter of his De septem septenis (The 
seven Sevens) he gives the seven grades of contemplation 
— meditatio, soliloquium, circumspectio, ascensio, revelatio, 
emissio, inspiratio.^ He presents the matter succinctly, 
thus perhaps giving clarity to current pietistic phraseology. 

Alanus de Insulis was a man of renown in his life-time, 
and after his death won the title of Doctor Universalis. 
Although the fame of scholar, philosopher, theologian, poet, 
may have uplifted him during his years of strength, he died 
a monk at Citeaux, in the year 1202. Fame came justly 
to him, for he was learned in the antique literature, and a 
gifted Latin poet, while as thinker and theologian he made 
skilful and catholic use of his thorough knowledge of 
whatever the first half of the twelfth century had achieved 
in thought and system. Elsewhere he has been considered 
as a poet ; * here we merely observe his position and 
accomplishment in matters of salvation and philosophy.^ 

Alanus possessed imagination, language, and a faculty 
of acute exposition. His sentences, especially his definitions, 
are pithy, suggestive, and vivid. He projected much thought 

^ Policraticus, vii. cap. lo. ^ Policrat. vii. cap. ii. 

^ Migne 199, col. 955. 

« Ante, Chapter XXX., 11. and XXXIII., i. 

* The works of Alanus are collected in Migne, Pat. Lot. 210. What follows 
in the text is much indebted to M. Baumgartner, " Die PhUosophie des Alanus 
de Insulis " (Baeumker's Beitrdge, Miinster, 1896). 


as well as fantasy into his poem, Anticlaudianus, and his 
cantafable, De planctu naturae. He showed himself a man 
of might, and insight too, in his Contra haereticos. His 
suggestive pithiness of diction lends interest to his encyclo- 
paedia of definitions, Distinctiones dictionum theologicalium ; 
and his keen power of reasoning succinctly from axiomatic 
premises is evinced in his De arte fidei catholicae. 

The intellectual activities of Alanus fell in the latter 
decades of the twelfth century, when mediaeval thought 
seemed for the moment to be mending its nets, and preparing 
for a further cast in the new waters of Aristotelianism. 
Alanus is busy with what has already been won ; he is 
unconscious of the new greater knowledge, which was 
preparing its revelations. He is not even a man of the 
transition from the lesser to the greater intellectual estate ; 
but is rather a final compendium of the lesser. Himself no 
epoch-making reasoner, he uses the achievements of Abaelard 
and Hugo, of Gilbert de la Porree and William of Conches, 
and others. Neither do his works unify and systematize the 
results of his studies. He is rather a re-phraser. Yet his 
refashioning is not a mere thing of words ; it proceeds with 
the vitalizing power of the man's plastic and creative 
temperament. One may speak of him as keen and acquisi- 
tive intellectually, and creative through his temperament. 

Alanus shows a catholic receptivity for all the mingled 
strains of thought, Platonic, Aristotelian, Neo-Platonic and 
Pythagorean, which fed the labours of his predecessors. He 
has studied the older sources, the Timaeus fragment, also 
Apuleius and Boethius of course. His chief blunder is his 
misconception of Aristotle as a logician and confuser of 
words {verborum turbator) — a phrase, perhaps, consciously 
used with poetic licence. For he has made use of much 
that came originally from the Stagirite. Within his range 
of opportunity, Alanus was a universal reader, and his 
writings discover traces of the men of importance from 
Pseudo-Dionysius and Eriugena down to John of Salisbury 
and Gundissalinus. 

These remarks may take the place of any specific pre- 
sentation of Alanus's work in logic, of his view of universals, 
of his notions of physics, of nature, of matter and form, of 


man's mind and body, and of the Triune Godhead.^ In his 
cosmology, however, we may note his imaginatively original 
employment of the conception or personification of Nature. 
God is the Creator, and Nature is His creature, and His vice- 
regent or vicarious maker, working the generation and decay 
of things material and changeable. ^ This thought, imagi- 
natively treated, makes a good part of the poetry of the 
De planctu and the Antidaudianus. The conception mth 
him is full of charming fantasy, and we look back through 
Bernardus Silvestris and other writers to Plato's divine 
fooling in the Timaeus, not as the specific, but generic, origin 
of such imaginative views of the contents and generation of 
the world. Such imaginings were as fantasy to science, 
when compared with the solid and comprehensive con- 
sideration of the material world which was to come a few 
years after Alanus's death, through the encyclopaedic 
Aristotelian knowledge presented in the works of Alexander 
of Hales and Albertus Magnus. 

^ All this is thoroughly done by Baumgartner, o.c. 
* See Baumgartner, p. 76 sqq. and citations. 



Intellectually, the thirteenth century in western Europe 
is marked by three closely connected phenomena : the 
growth of Universities, the discovery and appropriation of 
Aristotle, and the activities of Dominicans and Franciscans, 
These movements were universal, in that the range of none 
of them was limited by racial or provincial boundaries. 
Yet a line may still be drawn between Italy, where law and 
medicine were cultivated, and the North, where theology with 
logic and metaphysics were supreme. Absorption in these 
subjects produced a common likeness in the intellectual 
processes of men in France, England, and Germany, whose 
writings were to be no longer markedly affected by racial 
idiosyncrasies. This was true of the logical controversy 
regarding universals, so prominent in the first part of the 
twelfth century. It was very true of the great intellectual 
movement of the later twelfth and the thirteenth centuries, to 
wit, the coming of Aristotle to dominance, in spite of the 
counter-currents of Platonic Augustinianism. 

The men who followed the new knowledge had slight 
regard for ties of home, and travelled eagerly in search of 
learning. So, even as from far and wide those who could 
study Roman law came to Bologna, the study of theology 
and all that philosophy included drew men to Paris, Thither 
came the keen-minded from Italy and from England ; from 
the Low Countries and from Germany ; and from the many 
very different regions now covered by the name of France. 
Wherever born and of whatever race, the devotees of 
philosophy and theology at some period of their career reached 



Paris, learned and taught there, and were affected by the 
universahzing influence of an international aggregate of 
scholarship. So had it been with Breton Abaelard, with 
German Hugo, and with Lombard Peter ; so with English 
John, hight of Salisbury. And in the following times 
of culmination, Albertus Magnus comes in his maturity 
from Germany ; and his marvellous pupil Thomas, born of 
noble Norman stock in southern Italy, follows his master, 
eventually to Paris. So Bonaventura of lowly mid-Itahan 
birth likewise learns and teaches there ; and that unique 
Englishman, Roger Bacon, and after him Duns Scotus. 
These few greatest names symbolize the centralizing of 
thought in the crowded and huddled lecture-rooms of the 
City on the Seine. 

The origins of the great mediaeval Universities can 
scarcely be accommodated to simple statement. Their 
history is frequently obscure, and always intricate ; and 
the selection of a specific date or factor as determining the 
inception, or distinctive development, of these mediaeval 
creations is likely to be but arbitrary. They had no antique 
prototype : nothing either in Athens or Rome ever resembled 
these corporations of masters and students, with their 
authoritative privileges, their fixed curriculum, and their 
grades of formally certified attainment. Even the Alexandria 
of the Ptolemies, with all the pedantry of its learned littera- 
teurs and their minute study of the past, has nothing to 
offer like the scholastic obsequiousness of the mediaeval 
University, which sought to set upon one throne the antique 
philosophy and the Christian revelation, that it might with 
one and the same genuflection bow down before them both. 
It behoves us to advert to the conditions influencing the 
growth of Universities, and give a little space to those which 
were chief among them. 

The energetic human advance distinguishing the twelfth 
century in western Europe exhibits among its most obvious 
phenomena an increased mobility in all classes of society, and 
a tendency to gather into larger communities and form strong 
corporate associations for profit or protection. 1 No kind 
of men were more quickly touched by the new mobility than 

1 Ante, Chapter XIV. 


the thousands of youthful learners who desired to extend 
their knowledge, or, in some definite field, perfect their 
education. In the eleventh century, such would commonly 
have sought a monastery, near or far. In the twelfth and 
then in the thirteenth, they followed the human currents 
to the cities, where knowledge flourished as well as trade, 
and tolerable accommodation might be had for teachers 
and students. Certain towns, some for more, some for less, 
obvious reasons, became homes of study. Bologna, Paris, 
Oxford are the chief examples. Irnerius, famed as the 
founder of the systematic study of the Roman law, and 
Gratian, the equally famous orderer of the Canon law, taught 
or wrote at Bologna when the twelfth century was young. 
Their fame drew crowds of laymen and ecclesiastics, who 
desired to equip themselves for advancement through the 
business of the law, civil or ecclesiastical. At the same time, 
hundreds, which grew to thousands, were attracted to the 
Paris schools — the school of Notre Dame, where William of 
Champeaux held forth ; the school of St. Victor, where he 
afterwards established himself, and where Hugo taught ; and 
the school of St. Genevieve, where Abaelard lectured on 
dialectic and theology. These were palpable gatherings 
together of material for a University. What first brought 
masters and students to Oxford a few decades later is not so 
clear. But Oxford had been an important town long before 
a University lodged itself there. 

In the twelfth century, citizenship scarcely protected one 
beyond the city walls. A man carried but little safety with 
him. Only an insignificant fraction of the students at 
Bologna, and of both masters and students at Paris and 
Oxford, were citizens of those towns. The rest had come 
from everywhere. Paris and Bologna held an utterly 
cosmopolitan, international, concourse of scholar-folk. And 
these scholars, turbulent enough themselves, and dwelling 
in a turbulent foreign city, needed affiliation there, and 
protection and support. Organization was an obvious 
necessity, and if possible the erection of a civitas within a 
civitas, a University within a none too friendly town. This 
was the primal situation, and the primal need. Through 
somewhat different processes, and under different circum- 



stances, these exigencies evoked a University in Bologna, 
Paris, and Oxford.^ 

In Italy, where the instincts of ancient Rome never were 
extinguished, where some urban life maintained itself through 
the early helpless mediaeval centuries, where during the same 
period an infantile humanism did not cease to stammer ; 
where " grammar " was studied and taught by laymen, and 
the " ars dictaminis " practised men in the forms of legal 
instruments, it was but natural that the new mtellectual 
energies of the twelfth century should address themselves to 
the study of the Roman law, which, although debased and 
barbarized, had never passed into desuetude. And inasmuch 
as abstract theology did not attract the ItaUan temperament 
or meet the conditions of papal politics in Italy, it was 
likewise natural that ecclesiastical energies should be directed 
to the equally useful and closely related canon law. Such 
studies with their practical ends could best be prosecuted at 
some civic centre. In the first part of the twelfth century, 
Irnerius lectured at Bologna upon the civil law ; a generation 
later, Gratian pubhshed his Decretum there. The specific 
reasons inducing the former to open his lectures in that city 
are not known ; but a large and thrifty town set at the 
meeting of the great roads from central Italy to the north 
and east, was an admirable place for a civil doctor and his 
audience, as the event proved. Gratian was a monk m a 
Bologna convent, and may have listened to Irnerius. The 
pubhcation of his Decretum from Bologna, by that time (cir. 
1142) famous for jurisprudence, lent authority to this work, 
whose universal recognition was to enhance in turn Bologna's 


From the time of this inception of juristic studies, the 
talents of the doctors, and the city's fame, drew a prodigious 

1 What I have felt obUged to say upon the organization of mediaeval Univer- 
sities I have largely drawn from Rashdall's Universities of Europe in the Middle 
Ages [Oxiord, 1895). The subject is too large and complex for mdependent 
investigation, except of the most lengthy and thorough character. Extracts from 
illustrative mediaeval documents, with considerable information touchmg 
mediaeval Universities, are brought together by Arthur O. Norton m his Mediaeval 
Universities (Readings in the History of Education, Harvard University 1909). 
For the Paris University, the most important source is the Charttdartum Umver- 
sitatis Parisiensis, ed. by Denifle and Chatelain (1889-1891). See also Ch Thurot 
U Organisation de Venseignement dans I'Universite de Pans (Paris, 1850), and 
Denifle, Die Universitdten des Mittelalters (Berlin, 1885). 


concourse of students from all the lands of western Europe. 
The Doctors of the Civil and Canon Laws organized 
themselves into one, and subsequently into two, Colleges. 
Apparently they had become an efficient association by the 
third quarter of the twelfth century. But the University of 
Bologna was to be constituted par excellence, not of one or 
more colleges of doctors, but of societies of students. The 
persons who came for legal instruction were not boys getting 
their first education in the Arts. They were men studying 
a profession, and among them were many individuals of 
wealth and consequence, holding perhaps civil or ecclesiastic 
office in the places whence they came. The vast majority had 
this in common, that they were foreigners, with no civil rights 
in Bologna. It behoved them to organize for their protection 
and mutual support, and for the furtherance of the purposes 
for which they had come. That a body of men in a foreign 
city should live under the law of their own home, or the law 
of their own making, did not appear extraordinary in the 
twelfth century. It was not so long since the principle that 
men carried the law of their home with them, had been 
widely recognized, and in all countries the clergy still lived 
under the law of the Church. The gains accruing from the 
presence of a great number of foreign students might induce 
the authorities of Bologna to permit them to organize as 
student guilds, and regulate their affairs by rules of their 
own, even as was done by other guilds in most Italian 
cities. At Bologna the power of Guelf and Ghibeline clubs, 
and of craftsmen's guilds, rivalled that of the city magistrates. 
There is some indirect evidence that these students first 
divided themselves into four Nationes. If so, the arrange- 
ment did not last. For by the middle of the thirteenth 
century they are found organized in two Universitates, or 
corporations, a Universitas Citramontanorum and a Uni- 
versitas Ultramontanorum ; each under its own Rector. 
These tv/o corporations of foreign students constituted the 
University. The Professors did not belong to them, and 
therefore were not members of the University. Indeed they 
fought against the recognition of this University of students, 
asserting that the students were but their pupils. But the 
students prevailed, strong in their numbers, and in the 


weapon which they did not hesitate to use, that of migration 
to another city, which cut off the incomes of the Professors 
and diminished the repute and revenue of Bologna. So 
great became the power of the student body, that it brought 
the Professors to complete subjection, paying them their 
salaries, regulating the time and mode of lecturing, and 
compelling them to swear obedience to the Rectors. The 
Professors protested, but submitted. To make good its 
domination over them, and its independence as against the 
city, the student University migrated to Arezzo in 1215 
and to Padua in 1222.^ 

In origin as well as organization, the University of Paris 
differed from Bologna. It was the direct successor of the 
cathedral school of Notre Dame. This had risen to 
prominence under William of Champeaux. But Abaelard 
drew to Paris thousands of students for William's hundreds 
(or at least hundreds for William's tens) ; and Abaelard at 
the height of his popularity taught at the school of St. 
Genevieve, across the Seine. Therefore this school also, 
although fading out after Abaelard's time, should be regarded 
as a causal predecessor of the Paris University. So, for that 
matter, should the neighbouring school of St. Victor, founded 
by the discomfited William ; for its reputation under Hugo 
and Richard drew devout students from near and far, and 
augmented the scholastic fame of Paris. 

It was both the privilege and duty of the Chancellor 
of Notre Dame to license competent Masters to open schools 
near the cathedral. In the course of time, these Masters 
formed an Association, and assumed the right to admit to 
their Society the licentiates of the Chancellor, to wit, the new 
Masters who were about to begin to teach. In the decades 
following Abaelard's death, the Masters who lectured in the 
vicinity of Notre Dame increased in number. They spread 
with their schools beyond the island, and taught in houses 
on the bridges. They were Masters, that is, teachers, in the 
Arts. As the twelfth century gave way to the thirteenth, 

^ What has been said applies to the Bologna Law University. That had been 
preceded by a school of Arts, and later there grew up a flourishing school 
of Medicine, where surgery was also taught. These schools became af&liated 
Universities, but never equalled the Law University in importance. 


interest in the Arts waned before the absorbing passion for 
metaphysical theology. This was a higher branch of study, 
for which the Arts had come to be looked on as a preparation. 
So the scholars of the schools of Arts became impatient to 
graduate, that is, to reach the grade of Master, in order to 
pass on to the higher study of theology. A result was that 
the course of study in the Arts was shortened, while Masters 
multiplied in number. Their Society seems to have become 
a definite and formal corporate body or guild, not later 
than the year 1175. Herein was the beginning of the Paris 
University. It had become a studium generate, like Bologna, 
because there were many Masters, and students from every- 
where were admitted to study in their schools. 

Gradually the University came to full corporate existence. 
From about 1210, written statutes exist, passed by the 
Society of Masters ; at the same date a Bull of Innocent 
III. recognizes the Society as a Corporation. Then began 
a long struggle for supremacy, between the Masters and the 
Chancellor : it was the Chancellor's function to grant the 
licence to become a Master ; but it was the privilege of the 
Society to admit the licentiate to membership. The action 
of both being thus requisite, time alone could tell with 
whom the control eventually should rest. Was the self- 
governing University to prevail, or the Chancellor of the 
Cathedral ? The former won the victory. 

The Masters in Arts constituted par excellence the 
University, because they far outnumbered the Masters in 
the upper Faculties of Theology, Law, and Medicine. They 
were the dominant body ; what they decided on, the other 
Faculties acquiesced in. These Masters in Arts, besides 
being numerous, were young, not older than the law students 
at Bologna. With their still younger students,^ they made 
the bulk of the entire University, and were the persons who 
most needed protection in their lawful or unlawful conduct. 
At some indeterminate period they divided themselves into 
the four Nationes, French, Normans, Picards, and English. 
They voted by Nationes in their meetings ; but from a 
period apparently as early as their organization, a Rector 
was elected for all four Nationes, and not one Rector for each. 

* The Masters who taught were called Regentes, 


There were, however, occasional schisms or failures to agree. 
It was to be the fortune of the Rector thus elected to sup- 
plant the Chancellor of the Cathedral as the real head of 
the University. 

The vastly greater number of the Masters in Arts were 
actually students in the higher Faculties of Theology, Law,^ 
or Medicine, for which graduation in the Arts was the 
ordinary prerequisite. The Masters or Doctors of these 
three higher Faculties, at least from the year 12 13, 
determined the qualifications of candidates in their depart- 
ments. Nevertheless the Rector of the Faculty of Arts 
continued his advance toward the headship of the whole 
University. The oath taken by the Bachelors in the Arts, 
of obedience to that Faculty and its Rector, was strengthened 
in 1256, so as to bind the oath-taker so long as he should 
continue a member of the University. 

The University had not obtained its privileges without 
insistence, nor without the protest of action as well as word. 
Its first charter of privileges from the king was granted in 
1200, upon its protests against the conduct of the Provost 
of Paris in attacking riotous students. Next, in combating 
the jurisdiction of the Chancellor, it obtained privileges from 
the Pope ; and in 1229, upon failure to obtain redress for 
an attack from the Provost's soldiers, ordered by the queen, 
Blanche of Castile, the University dispersed. Thus it re- 
sorted to the weapon by which the University of Bologna 
had won the confirmation of its rights. In the year 1231 
the great Papal Bull, Parens scientiarum, finally confirmed 
the Paris University in its contentions and demands : the 
right to suspend lectures was sanctioned, whenever satisfac- 
tion for outrage had been refused for fifteen days ; likewise 
the authority of the University to make statutes, and expel 
members for a breach of them. The Chancellor of Notre 
Dame and the Bishop of Paris were both constrained by 
the same Bull. 

A different struggle still awaited the University, in 
which it was its good fortune not to be altogether success- 
ful ; for it was contending against instruments of intellectual 

1 Both civil and canon law were studied till 12 19, when a Bull of Honorius 
III. forbade the study of the former at Paris. 


and spiritual renovation, to wit, the Mendicant Orders. The 
details are difficult to unravel at this distance of time. But 
the Dominicans and Franciscans, in the lifetime of their 
founders, established themselves in Paris, and opened 
schools of theology. Their Professors were licensed by the 
Chancellor, and yet seem to have been unwilling to fall in 
with the customs of the University, and, for example, cease 
from teaching and disperse, when it saw fit to do so. The 
doctors of the theological Faculty became suspicious, and 
opposed the admission of Mendicants to the theological 
Faculty. The struggle lasted thirty years, until the 
Dominicans obtained two chairs in that Faculty, and the 
Franciscans perhaps the same number, on terms which 
looked like a victory for the Orders, but in fact represented 
a compromise ; for the Mendicant doctors in the end 
apparently submitted to the statutes of the University.^ 

The origin of Oxford University was different, and one 
may say more adventitious than that of Paris or Bologna. 
For Oxford was not the capital of a kingdom, nor is it 
known to have been an ancient seat of learning. The city 
was not even a bishop's seat, a fact which had a marked 
effect upon the constitution of the University. The old 
town lay at the edge of Essex and Mercia, and its position 
early gave it importance politically, or rather strategically, 
and as a place of trade. How or whence came the nucleus 
of Masters and students that should grow into a University 
is unknown. One hypothesis ^ is that it was a colony from 
Paris, shaken off by some academic or political disturbance. 
This surmise has been connected with the year 1167. There 
is more direct evidence of lectures in divinity delivered at 
Oxford thirty years before, and even of lectures upon Civil 
Law.^ There is at all events a circumstantial statement of 
the formal reading of a book before the Masters and scholars 
in the year 1185.* After this date the references multiply. 
In 1209, one has a veritable " dispersion," in protest against 
the hanging of some scholars. A charter from the papal 
legate in 12 14 accords certain privileges, among others that 

1 S&epost, p. 428. , " Dr. Rashdall's. 

^ A.'F.'LedLCh,EducaUonalChaHers,etc.,^^.-&:x.m. andioosgg. (Cambridge, 191 1). 
* Rashdall, o.c. ii. p. 341. 


a clerk arrested by the town should be surrendered on demand 
of the Bishop of Lincoln ^ or the Archdeacon, or the Chan- 
cellor, whom the Bishop shall set over the scholars. This 
document points to the beginning of the chancellorship. 
The title probably was copied from Paris ; but in Oxford 
the office was to be totally different. The Paris Chancellor 
was primarily a functionary of a great cathedral, who 
naturally maintained its prerogatives against the encroach- 
ments of university privilege. But at Oxford there was no 
cathedral ; the Chancellor was the head of the University, 
chosen from its Masters if not by them, and had chiefly its 
interests at heart. 

Making allowance for this important difference in the 
Chancellor's office, the development of the University closely 
resembled that of Paris. Its first extant statute, of the year 
1252, prescribes that no one shall be licensed in Theology 
who has not previously graduated in the Arts. To the 
same year belongs a settlement of disputes between the 
Irish and northern scholars. The former were included in 
the Australes or southerners, one of the two Nationes com- 
posing the Faculty of Arts. The Australes included the 
natives of Ireland, Wales, and England south of the Trent ; 
the other Natio, the Boreales, embraced the English and 
Scotch coming from north of that river. But the division 
into Nationes was less important than in the cosmopolitan 
University of Paris, and soon ceased to exist. The Faculty 
of Arts, however, continued even more dominant than at 
Paris. There was no serious quarrel with the Mendicant 
Orders, who established themselves at Oxford — the Domini- 
cans in 1221, and the Franciscans three years later. 

The curriculum of studies appears much the same at 
both Universities, and, as followed in the middle of the 
thirteenth century, may be thus summarized. For the 
lower degree of Bachelor of Arts, four or five years were 
required ; and three or four years more for the Master's 
privileges. The course of study embraced grammar 
(Priscian), also rhetoric, and in logic the entire Organon of 
Aristotle, preceded by Porphyry's Isagoge, and with the 
Sex principia of Gilbert de la Porree added to the course. 

^ Oxford lay in the diocese of Lincoln. 
VOL. II 2 E 


The mathematical branches of the Quadrivium also were 
required : arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. 
And finally a goodly part of the substantial philosophy of 
Aristotle was studied, with considerable choice permitted 
to the student in his selection from the works of the 
Philosopher. At Oxford he might choose between the 
Physics or the De coelo el mundo, or the De anima or the 
De animalibus. The Metaphysics and Ethics or Politics 
were also required before the Bachelor could be licensed 
as a Master. 

In Theology the course of study was extremely lengthy, 
especially at Paris, where eight years made the minimum, 
and the degree of Doctor was not given before the candi- 
date had reached the age of thirty-five. The chief sub- 
jects were Scripture and the Sentences of Peter Lombard. 
Besides which, the candidate had to approve himself in 
sermons and disputations. The latter might amount to a 
trial of nerve and endurance, as well as proficiency in learn- 
ing, since the candidate was expected to militare in scholis, 
against a succession of opponents from six in the morning till 
six in the evening, with but an hour's refreshment at noon.^ 

In spite of the many resemblances of Oxford to Paris 
in organization and curriculum, the intellectual tendencies 
of the two Universities were not altogether similar. At 
Paris, speculative theology, with metaphysics and other 
branches of " philosophy," regarded as its adjuncts, were of 
absorbing interest. At Oxford, while the same matters 
were perhaps supreme, a closer scholarship in language or 
philology was cultivated by Grosseteste, and his pupils, 
Adam of Marsh and Roger Bacon. The genius of observa- 
tion was stirring there ; and a natural science was coming 
into being, which was not to repose solely upon the 
authority of ancient books, but was to proceed by the way 
of observation and experiment. Yet Roger Bacon imposed 

^ For the course of medicine and the list of books studied or lectured on, 
especially at Montpellier, from which we have the most complete list, see Rashdall, 
ii. p. ii8 sqq. and ibid. p. 780. In Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, vol. xx., 
1909, C. H. Haskins publishes An impublished List of Text-books, belonging to 
the close of the twelfth century, when classical studies had not as yet been over- 
shadowed by Dialectic. See also, generally, Paetow, The Arts Course at Medieval 
Universities (Univ. of Illinois, 19 10). 


upon both his philology and his natural science a certain 
ultimate purpose : that they should subserve the surer 
ascertainment of divine and saving truth, and thus still 
remain handmaids of theology, at least in theory. 

The year 1200 may be taken to symbolize the middle 
of a period notable for the enlargement of knowledge. If 
one should take the time of this increase to extend fifty 
years on either side of the central point, one might say that 
the student of the year 1250 stood to his intellectual 
ancestor of the year 1150, as a man in the full possession 
and use of the Encyclopaedia Britannica would stand toward 
his father who had saved up the purchase money for the 
same. The most obvious cause of this was an increasing 
acquaintance with the productions of the so-called Arabian 
philosophy, and more especially with the works of Aristotle, 
first through translations from the Arabic, and then through 
translations from the Greek, which were made in order to 
obviate the insufficiency of the former. 

It would need a long excursus to review the far from 
simple course of so-called Arabian thought, philosophic and 
religious. It begins in the East, and follows the setting 
sun. Even before the Hegira (622) the Arabs had rubbed 
up against the inhabitants of Syria, Christian in name, 
eastern or Hellenic in culture and proclivity. Then in a 
century or two, when the first impulsion of Mohammedan 
conquest was spent, the works of Aristotle and his later 
Greek commentators were translated into Arabic from Syrian 
versions, under the encouragement of the rulers of Bagdad. 
The Syrian versions, as we may imagine, were somewhat 
eclecticized and, more especially, Neo-Platonized. So it was 
not the pure Aristotle that passed on into Arabic philosophy, 
but the Aristotelian substance interpreted through later 
phases of Greek and Oriental thought. Still, Aristotle was 
the great name, and his system furnished the nucleus of 
doctrine represented in the Peripatetic eclecticism which was 
to constitute, par excellence, Arabic philosophy. Also Greek 
mathematical and medical treatises were translated into 
Arabic from Syrian versions. El-Farabi (d. 950) and 
Avicenna (980-1036) were the chief glories of the Arabic 


philosophy of Bagdad. These two gifted men were com- 
mentators upon the works of the Stagirite, and authors of 
many interesting lucubrations of their own> Arabian 
philosophy declined in the East with Avicenna's death ; but 
only to revive in Mussulman Spain. There its great repre- 
sentative was Averroes, whose life filled the last three 
quarters of the twelfth century. So great became his 
authority as an Aristotelian, with the Scholastics, that he 
received the name of Commentator, par excellence, even as 
Aristotle was par excellence, Philosophus. We need not 
consider the ideas of these men which were their own rather 
than the Stagirite's ; nor discuss the pietistic and fanatical 
sects among the Mussulmans, who either sought to harmonize 
Aristotle with the Koran, or disapproved of Greek philosophy. 
One readily perceives that in its task of acquisition and 
interpretation, with some independent thinking, and still 
more temperamental feeling, Arabic philosophy was the 
analogue of Christian scholasticism, of which it was, so to 
speak, the collateral ancestor. ^ 

And in this wise. The Commentaries of Averroes, for 
example, were translated into Latin ; and, throughout all 
the mediaeval centuries, the Commentary tended to supplant 
the work commented on, whether that work was Holy 
Scripture or a treatise of Aristotle. By the middle of the 
thirteenth century all the important works of Averroes had 
been translated into Latin, and he had many followers at 
Paris ; and before then, from the College of Toledo, had 
come translations of the principal works of the other chief 
Arabian philosophers. Of still greater importance for the 
Christian West was the work of Jews and Christians in Spain 
aijd Provence, in translating the Arabic versions of Aristotle 
into Latin, sometimes directly, and sometimes first into 
Hebrew and then into Latin. They attempted a literal 
translation, which, however, frequently failed to give the 

^ See generally, Carra de Vaux, Avicenne (Paris, 1900) ; also Gazali, by the 
same author. 

^ Whoever will read the two monographs of the Baron Carra de Vaux, Avicenne 
and Gazali, will be struck by the closely analogous courses of Moslem and Christian 
thought ; each showing the parallel phases of scholastic rationalism (reliant upon 
reason and rational authority) and scholastic theological piety, or mysticism 
(reliant upon the authority of Revelation and sceptical as to the validity of human 


significance even of the Arabic version. These Arabic-Latin 
translations were of primary importance for the first intro- 
duction of Aristotle to the theologian philosophers of 
Christian Europe. , 

They were not to remain the only ones. In the twelfth / 
century, a number of Western scholars made excursions into 
the East ; and the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders 
in 1204 enlarged their opportunities of studying the Greek 
language and philosophy. Attempts at direct translation 
into Latin began. One of the first translators was the 
sturdy Englishman, Robert Grossete ste.^ But the most 
adequate translations were the work of 'a Dominican, the 
Fleming, William of Moerbeke, who appears to have trans- 
lated a number of the works of Aristotle at the instance of 
Thomas Aquinas, possibly working with him at Rome and 
elsewhere in 1263 and the years following. Aquinas re- 
cognized the inadequacy of the older translations, and based 
his own Aristotelian Commentaries upon these made by 
his collaborators, learned in the Greek tongue. The joint 
labour of translation and commentary seems to have been 
undertaken at the command of Pope Urban IV., who had 
renewed the former prohibitions put upon the use of Aristotle 
at the Paris University, in the older, shall we say, Averroistic 

If these prohibitions, which did not touch the logical 
treatises, were meant to be taken absolutely, such had been 
far from their effect. In 12 10 and again in 1215, an inter- 
dict was put upon the naturalis philosophia and the metha- 
fisica of the Stagirite. It was not revoked, but rather 
provisionally renewed, in 1231, until those works should be 
properly expurgated. A Commission was appointed which 
accomplished nothing ; and the old interdict still hung in 
the air, unrescinded, yet ignored in practice. So Pope 
Urban referred to it as still effective — which it was not — in 
1263. For Aristotle had been more and more thoroughly 
exploited in the Paris University, and by 1255 the Faculty 
of Arts formally placed his works upon the list of books to 
be studied and lectured upon.^ 

1 Ante, p. 146. 
^ See Mandonnet, O. P., Aristote et la mouvement intellectuel du moyen age, 


So the founding of Universities and the enlarged and 
surer knowledge brought by a study of the works of Aristotle 
were factors of power in the enormous intellectual advance 
which took place in the last half of the twelfth and the first 
half of the thirteenth century. Yet these factors could not 
have operated as they did, but for the antecedent intellectual 
development. Before the first half of the twelfth century 
had passed, the patristic material had been mastered, along 
with the current notions of antique philosophy, for the most 
part contained in it. Strengthened by this discipline, men 
were prepared for an extension and solidifying of their 
knowledge of the universe and man. Not only had they 
appropriated what the available sources had to offer, but, 
when we think of Abaelard and Hugo of St. Victor, we see 
that organic restatements had been made of what had been 
acquired. Still, men really knew too little. It is very well 
to exploit logic, and construct soul-satisfying schemes of 
cosmogonic symbolism, in order to represent the deepest 
truth of the material world. But the evident sense-realities 
of things are importunate. The minds even of spiritual 
men may, in time, crave explanation of this side of their 
consciousness. Abaelard seems to have been oblivious to 
natural phenomena ; Hugo recognizes them in order to elicit 
their spiritual meaning ; and Alanus de Insulis, a generation 
and more afterwards, takes a poet's view of Nature. Other 
men had a more hard-headed interest in these phenomena ; 
but they knew too little to attempt seriously to put them 
together in some sense -rational scheme. The natural 
knowledge presented by the writings of the Church Fathers 
was little more than foolishness ; the early schoolmen were 
their heirs. They observed a little for themselves ; but very 

There is an abysmal difference in the amount of natural 
knowledge exhibited by any writing of the twelfth century, 
and the works of Albertus Magnus belonging say to the 
middle of the thirteenth. The obvious reason of this is, 
that the latter had drawn upon the great volume of natural 

contained in his Siger de Brabant (2nd ed.), and printed separately ; De Wulf, 
Hist, of Medieval Phil., 3rd ed., pp. 243-253 ; C. Marchesi, U Etica Nicomachea 
nella tradizione medievale (Messina, 1904) ; Grabmann, o.c. ii., p. 64 sqq. 


observation and hypothesis which for the preceding five 
hundred years had been actually closed to western Europe, 
and for five hundred years before that had been spiritually 
closed, because of the ineptitude of men to read therein. 
That volume was of course the encyclopaedic Natural 
Philosophy of Aristotle, completed, and treated in its 
ultimate causal relationships, by his Metaphysics. The 
Metaphysics, the First Philosophy, gave completeness and 
unity to the various provinces of natural knowledge ex- 
pounded in his special treatises. For this reason, one 
finds in the works of Albertus a fund of natural knowledge 
solid with the solidity of the earth upon which one may 
plant his feet, and totally unlike the beautiful dreaming 
which drew its prototypal origins from the skyey mind of 

The utilization of Aristotle's philosophy by the English- 
man, Alexander of Hales, who became a Franciscan near 
the year 1230, when he had already lectured for some 
thirty years at Paris ; its far more elaborate and complete 
exposition by the very Teutonic Dominican, Albertus 
Magnus ; and its even closer exposition and final incorpora- 
tion within the sum of Christian doctrine, by Thomas, — this 
three-staged achievement is the great mediaeval instance of 
return to a genuine and chief source of Greek philosophy. 
These three schoolmen went back of the accounts and 
views of Greek philosophy contained in the writings of the 
Fathers. And in so doing they also went back of what 
was transmitted to the Middle Ages by Boethius and other 
" transmitters." ^ 

But the achievement of these schoolmen had other 
import. Their work represents the culmination of the 
third stage of mediaeval thought : that of systematic 
and organic restatement of the substance of the patristic 
and antique, with added elements ; for there can be no 
organic restatement which does not hold and present 
something from him who achieves it. The result, attained 
at least by Thomas, was even more than this. Based upon 
the data and assumptions of scholasticism, it was a complete 
and final statement of the nature of God so far as that 

1 Ante, Chapter V. 


might be known, of the creature world, corporeal and 
incorporeal, and especially of man, his nature, his qualities, 
his relationship to God and final destiny. And herein, in 
its completeness, it was satisfying. The human mind in 
seeking explanation of the phenomena of its consciousness — 
presumably a reflex of the universe without — ^tends to 
seek a unity of explanation. A unity of explanation 
requires a completeness in the mental scheme of what is 
to be explained. Thoughtful men in the Middle Ages 
craved a scheme of life complete even in detail, which 
should educe life's currents from a primal Godhead, and 
project theni compacted, with none left straying or pointing 
nowhither, on toward universal fulfilment of His will. 

Mediaeval thought had been preceded by whole views, 
entire schemes of life. Greek philosophy had held only 
such from the time when Thales said that water was the 
cause of all things. Plato's view or scheme also was 
beautiful in its ideally pyramided structure, with the Idea 
of the Good at the apex. For Aristotle, knowledge was 
to be a syllogistic, or at least rational and jointed, 
encyclopaedia, rounded, unified, complete. After the pagan 
times, another whole scheme was that of Augustine, or 
again, that of Gregory the Great, though barbarized 
and hardened. Thus as patterns for their own thinking, 
mediaeval men knew only of entire schemes of thought. 
Their creed was, in every sense, a symbol of a completed 
scheme. And no mediaeval philosopher or theologian 
suspected himself of fragmentariness. Yet, in fact, at first 
they did but select and compile. After a century and 
more of this, they began to make organic statements 
of parts of Christian doctrine. So we have Anselm's 
Proslogium and Cur Deus Homo. Abaelard's Theologia is 
far more complete ; and so is Hugo's De sacramentis, 
which offers an entire scheme, symbolical, sacramental, 
Christian, of God and the world and man. Hugo's scheme 
might be ideally satisfying ; but little concrete knowledge 
was represented in it. And when in the generations follow- 
ing his death, the co-ordinated Aristotelian encyclopaedia 
was brought to light and studied, then and thereafter any 
whole view of the world must take account of this new 


volume of argument and concrete knowledge. Alexander 
of Hales begins the labour of using it in a Christian 
Summa ; Albertus makes prodigious advance, at least in 
the massing and preparation of the full Aristotelian material. 
Both try for whole views and comprehensive results. 
Then Thomas, most highly favoured in his master Albert, 
and gifted with a genius for acquisition and synthetic 
exposition, incorporates Aristotle, and Aristotle's whole 
views, into the whole view presented by the Catholic Faith. 

Thomas's view, to be satisfying, had to be complete. 
It was knowledge united and amalgamated into a scheme 
of salvation. But a scheme of salvation is a chain, which 
can hold only in virtue of its completeness ; break one link, 
and it snaps ; leave one rivet loose, and it may also snap. 
A scheme of salvation must answer every problem put to 
it ; a single unanswered problem may imperil it. The 
problem, for example, of God's foreknowledge and pre- 
destination — that were indeed an open link, which Thomas 
will by no means leave unwelded. Hence for us modern 
men also, whose views of the universe are so shamelessly 
partial, leaving so much unanswered and so much unknown, 
the philosophy of Thomas may be restful, and charm by 
its completeness. 

It is of great interest to observe the apparently unlikely 
agencies by which this new volume of knowledge was 
made generally available. In fact, it was the new know- 
ledge and the demand for it that forced these agencies to 
fulfil the mission of exploiting it. For they had been 
created for other purposes, which they also fulfilled. Verily 
it happened that the chief means through which the new 
knowledge was gained and published were the two new 
unmonastic Orders of monks, friars rather we may call 
them. Francis of Assisi was born in 1182 and died in 
1226 ; Dominic was born in 1177 and died in 1221. The 
Orders of Minorites and Preachers were founded by them 
respectively in 1209 and 1215. Neither Order was founded 
to promote secular knowledge. Francis organized his 
Minorites that they might imitate the lives of Christ and 
His apostles, and preach repentance to the world. Dominic 
founded his Order to save souls through preaching : " For 


our Order is known from the beginning to have been insti- 
tuted especially for preaching and the saving of souls, and 
our study [studium nostrum) should have as the chief object 
of its labour to enable us to be useful to our neighbours' 
souls {ut proximorum animabus possimus utiles esse)." ^ 

Within an apparent similarity of aim, each Order from 
the first reflected the temper of its founder ; and the temper 
of Francis was not that of Dominic. For our purpose here, 
the difference may perhaps be symbolized by the Dominican 
maxim to preach the Gospel throughout the world equally 
by word and example {verbo pariter et exempio) ; and 
the Franciscan maxim, to exhort all plus exempio quam 
verbo? A generation later St. Bonaventura puts it thus : 
" Alii (scilicet, Praedicatores) principaliter intendunt specu- 
lation! . . . et postea unctioni. Alii (scilicet, Minores) 
principaliter unctioni et postea speculation!. " ^ 

It is safe to say that St. Francis had not thought of 
secular studies ; and as for the Order of Preachers, the 
Constitutions of 1228 forbade the Dominicans to study 
libros gentilium and seculares scientias. They are to study 
libros theologicos.^ Francis, also, recognized the necessity 
of Scriptural study for those Minorites who were allowed 
to preach. In these views the early Franciscans and 
Dominicans were not peculiar ; but rather represented the 
attitude of the older monastic Orders and of the stricter 
secular clergy. The Gospel teaching of Christ had nothing 
to do with secular knowledge — explicitly. But the first 
centuries of the Church perceived that its defenders should 
be equipped with the Gentile learning, into which indeed they 
had been born. And while Francis was little of a theologian, 
and Dominic's personality and career remain curiously 
obscure, one can safely say that both founders saw the 
need of sacred studies, and left no authoritative expression 
prohibiting their Orders from pursuing them to the best 
advantage for the cause of Christ. Yet we are not called 
on to suppose that either founder, in founding his Order 

^ Constifutiones des Prediger-Ordens vom Jahre 1228, Prologus ; H. Denifle, 
Archiv fur Litt. und Kirchenges. des Mittelalters, Bd. i. (1885), p. 194. 

^ See Felder, Wissenschaftliche Studien im Franciskanerorden, p. 24 (Freiburg 
im Breisgau, 1904) ; a valuable work. 

^ See Felder, o.c. p. 29. * Constitutiones, etc., cap. 28-31. 


for a definite purpose, foresaw all the means which after 
his death might be employed to attain that pm'pose — or 
some other ! 

The new Order cometh, the old rusteth. So has it 
commonly been with Monasticism, Undoubtedly these 
uncloistered Orders embodied novel principles of efficiency 
for the upholding of the Faith : their soldiers marched 
abroad evangelizing, and did not keep within their fastnesses 
of holiness. The Mendicant Orders were still young, and 
fresh from the inspiration of their founders. In those years 
they moved men's hearts and drew them to the ideal which 
had been set for themselves. The result was, that in the 
first half of the thirteenth century the greater part of 
Christian religious energy girded its loins with the cords of 
Francis and Dominic. 

At the commencement of that century, when the Orders 
of Minorites and Preachers were founded, the world of 
Western thought was prepared to make its own the new 
Aristotelian volume of knowledge and applied reason. 
Once that was opened and its contents perceived, the old 
Augustinian-Neo-Platonic ways of thinking could no longer 
proceed with their idealizing constructions, ignoring the 
pertinence of the new data and their possible application 
to such presentations of Christian doctrine as Hugo's De 
sacramentis or the Lombard's Sentences. The new know- 
ledge, with its methods, was of such insistent import, that 
it had at once to be considered, and either invalidated by 
argument, or accepted, and perhaps corrected, and then 
accommodated within an enlarged Christian Philosophy. 

The spiritual force animating a new religious movement 
attracts the intellectual energies of the period, and furnishes 
them a new reality of purpose. This was true of early 
Christianity, and likewise true of the fresh religious impulse 
which proceeded from Francis's energy of love and the 
organizing zeal of Dominic. From the very years of their 
foundation, 1209 and 1215, the rapid increase of the two 
Orders realized their founders' visions of multitudes hurry- 
ing from among all nations to become Minorites or 
Preachers. And more and more their numbers were 
recruited from among the clergy. The lay members, 


important in the first years of Francis's labours, were soon 
wellnigh submerged by the clericals ; and the educated or 
learned element became predominant in the Franciscan 
Order as it was from the first in the Dominican. 

Consider for an instant the spread of the former. In 
1216, Cardinal Jacques of Vitry finds the Minorites in 
Lombardy, Tuscany, Apulia, and Sicily. The next year 
five thousand are reported to have assembled at the 
general meeting of the Order. Two years later Francis 
proceeds to carry out his plan of world-conquest by apportion- 
ing the Christian countries, and sending the brethren into 
France, Germany, Hungary, Spain, and throughout Italy.^ 
It was a period when in the midst of general ignorance on 
the part of the clergy as well as laity. Universities [generalia 
studio) were rising in Italy, France, and England. The 
popes. Innocent III. (died 1216), Honorius III. (died 1221), 
and Gregory IX. (died 1241), were seeking to raise the 
/^education and even the learning of the Church. Their 
efforts found in the zeal of the Mendicants a ready response 
which was not forthcoming from the secular clergy. The 
Mendicants were zealous for the Faith, and loyal liegemen 
of the popes, who were their sustainers and the guarantors 
of their freedom from local ecclesiastical interference. What 
more fitting instruments could be found to advance the cause 
of sacred learning at the Universities, and enlarge it with 
the new knowledge which must either serve the Faith 
or be its enemy. If all this was not evident in the first 
decades of the century, it had become so by the middle of 
it, when the Franciscan Bonaventura and the Dominicans 
Albertus and Thomas were the intellectual glories of the 
time. And thus, while the ardour of the new Orders drew 
to their ranks the learning and spiritual energy of the 
Church, the intellectual currents of the time caught up those 
same Brotherhoods, which had so entrusted their own 
salvation to the mission of saving other souls abroad in 
the world, where those currents flowed. 

The Universities, above all the University par excellence, 
were in the hands of the secular clergy ; and long and in- 
tricate is the story of their jealous endeavours to exclude 

^ Of. Felder, o.c. p. 107 sqq. 


the Mendicants from Professors' chairs. The Dominicans 
estabhshed themselves at Paris in 1217, the Franciscans 
two years later. The former succeeded in obtaining one 
chair of theology at the University in 1229, and a second 
in 1231 ; and about the same time the Franciscans obtained 
their first chair, and filled it with Alexander of Hales. 
When he died an old man, fifteen years later, they wrote 
upon his tomb : 

" Gloria Doctorum, decus et flos Philosophorum, 
Auctor scriptorum vir Alexander variorum," 

closing the epitaph with the words : ' ' primus Doctor eorum, ' ' 
to wit, of the Minorites. He was the author of the first 
Summa theologiae, in the sense in which that term fits the 
work of Albert and Thomas. And there is no harm in 
repeating that this Summa of Alexander's was the first 
work of a mediaeval schoolman in which use was made of the 
physics, metaphysics, and natural history, of Aristotle.^ He 
died in 1245, when the Franciscans appear to have possessed 
two chairs at the University. One of them was filled in 
1248 by Bonaventura, who nine years later was taken from 
his professorship, to become Minister-General of his Order. 
It was indeed only in this year 1257 ^^3± the University 
itself had been brought by papal injunctions formally to 
recognize as magisfer this most eloquent of the Franciscans, 
and the greatest of the Dominicans, Thomas Aquinas. The 
latter's master, Albert, had been recognized as magister by 
the University in 1245. 

Before the intellectual achievements of these two men, 
the Franciscan fame for learning paled. But that Order 
went on winning fame across the Channel, which the 
Dominicans had crossed before them. In 1224 they came 
to Oxford, and were received as guests by an establishment 
of Dominicans : this was but nine years after the foundation 
of the preaching Order ! Perhaps the Franciscan glories 
overshone the Dominican at Oxford, where Grosseteste 
almost belongs to them and Adam of Marsh and Roger Bacon. 
But whichever Order led, there can be no doubt that together 
they included the greater part of the intellectual productivity 

^ Cf. Felder, ox. p. 177 sqq. 


of the maturing thirteenth century. Nevertheless, in spite 
of the vast work of the Orders in the field of secular know- 
ledge, it will be borne in mind that the advancement of sacra 
doctrina, theology, the saving understanding of Scripture, 
was the end and purpose of all study with Dominicans and 
Franciscans, as it was universally with all orthodox mediaeval 
schoolmen ; although for many the nominal purpose seems 
a mere convention. Few men of the twelfth or thirteenth 
century cared to dispute the principle that the Carmina 
poetarum and the Dicta philosophorum " should be read not 
for their own sake, but in order that we may learn holy 
Scripture to the best advantage : I say they are to be 
offered as first-fruits, for we should not grow old in them, 
but spring from their thresholds to the sacred page, for whose 
sake we were studying them for a while." ^ 

Within the two Orders, especially the Franciscan, men 
differed sharply as to the desirability of learning. So did 
their contemporaries among the secular clergy, and their 
mediaeval and patristic predecessors as far back as Clement 
of Alexandria and Tertullian. On this matter a large 
variance of opinion might exist within the compass of 
orthodoxy ; for Catholicism did not forbid men to value 
secular knowledge, provided they did not cleave to opinions 
contradicting Christian verity. This was heresy, and indeed 
was the sum of what was called Averroism, the chief 
intellectual heresy of the thirteenth century. It consisted 
in a sheer following of Aristotle and his infidel commentator, 
wheresoever the opinions of the Philosopher, so interpreted, 
might lead. They were not to be corrected in the interest 
of Christian truth. A representative Averroist, and one so 
important as to draw the fire of Aquinas, as well as the 
censures of the Church, was Siger de Brabant. He followed 
Aristotle and his commentator in maintaining : The universal 
oneness of the (human) intelligence, the anima intellectiva, 
an opinion which involved the denial of an individual 
immortality, with its rewards and punishments ; the eternity 
of the visible world, — uncreated and everlasting ; a rational 
necessitarianism which precluded freedom of human action 
and moral responsibility. 

^ From Denifle, Universitdten des Mittelalters, i. 99, note 192. 


It would be hard to find theses more fundamentally 
opposed to the Christian Faith. Yet Siger may have deemed 
himself a Christian. With other Averroists, he sought to 
preserve his religio